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Indigenous Filmmakers: Apply now for career-changing funding, mentorship

Filmmakers share how STORYHIVE opened doors and empowered Indigenous-led storytelling
Have a short film idea? No experience is required to apply. Send in your application to before 12:00 a.m. (midnight) PT on June 28, 2022. Photo credit: Levi Davis. Takla Traphouse production.

We’ve got exciting news, Vancouver Island! TELUS STORYHIVE’s 2022 Indigenous Storyteller Edition is open now for intake. This is your chance to join the STORYHIVE community and share your story.

Joy Haskell was thrilled when she found out she’d been selected for a $20,000 TELUS STORYHIVE production grant (plus mentorship, training and distribution on TELUS Optik TV) back in 2018 for the first Indigenous Storyteller Edition. It meant she could finally bring her short film Hey Cuzzin to life.

On the set of <em>Hey Cuzzin</em>. Photo Credit: Joy Haskell
On the set of Hey Cuzzin. Photo Credit: Joy Haskell
“This was my shot. I’d been working in different facets of the film industry and was trying to break in, but was never given the opportunity,” she says.

She shared the good news with many people, including Dr. Evan Adams (also known as Thomas from Smoke Signals) —an early supporter of her work.

“I told him the concept behind Hey Cuzzin, and said it was going to be my proof-of-concept to develop a series. He immediately said, ‘OK, so what part do I get to play?’ I had no expectation that he would be available, but I immediately wrote him in.”

STORYHIVE also connected her with a mentor who helped guide every step of the process.

“The mentor they paired me with was awesome — he was always available, and if he didn’t hear from me for a few days he’d call and check in,” she says.

Hey Cuzzin was distributed through TELUS Optik TV in 2018, and it certainly worked as a proof-of-concept — she’s currently expanding the story into a television series with high-profile partners.

Flexibility to tell the stories we wanted to tell

Trevor Solway was also surrounded by supportive mentors while making Broken Records, his short film from the STORYHIVE 2018 Indigenous Storyteller Edition.

Trevor Solway has continued to mentor Siksika filmmakers through the Napi Collective. Photo credit: Blaire Russell.
Trevor Solway has continued to mentor Siksika filmmakers through the Napi Collective. Photo credit: Blaire Russell.
“STORYHIVE aligned me with mentors around the budget, casting, script writing, directing, all those tough things,” he says. “There was flexibility to tell the stories we wanted to tell, and I was able to film it back home in Siksika Nation with a 90 per cent Indigenous crew.”

Solway was purposeful in sharing the wealth and opportunity he received from STORYHIVE, and has continued to mentor Siksika Nation filmmakers through The Napi Collective.

“To see where The Napi Collective has come since Broken Records — so many leaders have come from that set. It not only impacted me, it also showed young people from our reserve that they can have a life in film. Their stories do matter, their experiences do matter.”

Apply now for the 2022 Indigenous Storyteller Edition of STORYHIVE

In partnership with the Indigenous Screen Office and Creative BC, STORYHIVE wants to continue amplifying Indigenous voices by providing support to 30 Indigenous storytellers with a $20,000 production grant, mentorship, training and distribution through TELUS Optik TV. The Indigenous Screen Office and Creative BC will also be providing top up funding of $3,000 for each selected project in British Columbia and Alberta. Have a short film idea? No experience is required to apply. Send in your application to before 12:00 am (midnight) PT on June 28, 2022.

“We are excited to see applications from Vancouver Island and across B.C. and Alberta. We are looking to spotlight emerging Indigenous storytellers with our second Indigenous Storyteller Edition. This Edition continues TELUS STORYHIVE’s commitment to empower and support capacity building for Indigenous creatives in Western Canada. We look forward to spotlighting and amplifying the voices, stories and lived experiences of Indigenous storytellers and their communities through this Edition,” says Erin Shaw, TELUS STORYHIVE’s Vancouver Island territory manager.

STORYHIVE is committed to a long-term investment in training and support for Indigenous storytellers. The second Indigenous Storyteller Edition will be guided by an Indigenous Advisory Council, and STORYHIVE will also be partnering and collaborating with Indigenous filmmakers and community members for the selection committee, application moderators and project mentors.

“I often meet creative people who are waiting for the right moment or the right funding,” Solway says. “There’s never going to be a right time — the only moment we’ve got is right now. Sit down at your computer, get those fingers on that keyboard and get to work.”

“Apply! It changed my life and it changed my career. It opened so many doors for me and it can do the same for you,” Haskell says. “Take a breath and start working through the questions one by one. STORYHIVE is accessible — if you have any questions during the process, just reach out.”

Representation matters, and inclusion helps everyone

Creating a film with STORYHIVE was a significant turning point for both Haskell and Solway, but earning a career boost isn’t the only reason to apply.

“Sometimes filmmakers claim that there aren’t enough Indigenous directors, crew or actors to diversify their sets. Things like STORYHIVE prove that they can’t use that excuse anymore,” Solway says.

Both Haskell and Solway invited spiritual leaders to smudge their set before filming began, and the practice was welcomed by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous crew as a way to ground the production and create a cooperative atmosphere.

“It’s important that we continue to fight for our right to be on the screen,” Haskell says. “If you don’t see enough of your culture reflected on screen you might start thinking that we’re not good enough, and that needs to change.”

Visit to get started and send in your application before 12:00 am (midnight) PT on June 28.