Participants Announced for UK-Canadian Co-Production Programme for Immersive Storytelling

  • StoryFutures
  • November 26th 2020
Congratulations to the selected participants!

London, Thursday 26 November, 2020 ‒ The participants for the UK-Canada Immersive Exchange, a new talent development and co-production programme for UK and Canadian immersive technology creatives and producers, have been selected. Twenty-four participants – 12 from the UK and 12 from Canada – were chosen from nearly 500 applications. They include six creative leads from each country – a mixture of artists, filmmakers, theatre directors and visionaries – as well as six creative producers from each country, who bring with them an impressive and varied range of experiences from across the creative spectrum.

The pioneering programme between the two countries, both recognized as leaders in immersive production, will for the first time provide structured opportunities for international collaboration and knowledge exchange in this important growth area for the arts and creative industries.

“We’re so delighted at the positive response to this call, and to have found such an incredible group of talented individuals from both sides of the Atlantic to take part in our immersive programme,” said Becky Gregory-Clarke, Program Co-Lead, UK-Canada Immersive Exchange and Head of Immersive, StoryFutures Academy. “In an unprecedented year, it’s more encouraging than ever to see such an enthusiastic group of people eager to overcome all the barriers of international working and come together to produce something so creative and exciting. We can’t wait to see what concepts they come up with.”

Throughout the initial Talent Development stage of the programme, which began on 9th November 2020, the 24 participants are brought together in the same virtual spaces to collaborate and engage in weekly creative, content and business-focused sessions. Additionally, all participants receive a fixed development grant of £2,000 (CAD 3,400) to contribute towards their time spent on the talent development stage. In the latter stage, the participants can pitch for co-production financing, with a total fund of up to £300,000 (CAD 510,000) available between the countries. This will fund a mixture of binational co-productions between £25,000 (CAD 42,500) and up to a maximum of £100,000 (CAD 170,000). The co-production stage will begin in March 2021, and the programme will conclude with final projects delivered by November 2021.

“The immersive storytelling industry continues to be pushed forward by creators motivated to build for unforgettable experiences. The diverse mix of talents and imaginations among our cohort will help shape the unique content that will be developed from this programme,” added Laura Mingail, Program Co-Lead, UK-Canada Immersive Exchange, on behalf of the Canadian Film Centre.From day one, we have been able to meet in shared virtual environments. Immersive technologies are as much tools to connect audiences to stories as they are to connect creators across the world to build relationships and collaborate.”

Connecting in Altspace VR

The UK-Canada Immersive Exchange is supported by an international partnership between StoryFutures Academy (run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London), Arts Council England, the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab) and the Canada Council for the Arts. Together, these organizations selected the following creators:

Creative Leads – UK:

  • AVIN SHAH, playwright and actor; core writer for BBC Radio 4’s acclaimed First World War drama series Tommies
  • DAVE LYNCH, artist, director, inventor and researcher; creator of large-scale artworks, multisensory stories and performances across art, science, society and technology
  • FRED DEAKIN, multidisciplinary artist; musician; half of the Mercury/Brit nominated band Lemon Jelly; founder/director of digital design studio Airside
  • PERSIS JADÉ MARAVALA, artistic director of ZU-UK, working in games, performance and technology; writer and director of Hotel Medea, Binaural Dinner Date, Pick Me Up (& Hold Me Tight); making playable art for the Post Normal
  • KAREN PALMER, Storyteller from the Future; award-winning international artist; TED Speaker; creator of RIOT AI & Perception iO
  • LEONIE RAE GASSON, director of cross reality experiences, 360 film and live performance; Joint Artistic Director, Produced Moon, an interactive digital art company

Creative Leads – Canada:

  • BRENDA LONGFELLOW, interactive director; award-winning filmmaker; professor, Department of Cinema & Media Arts, York University
  • CASEY KOYCZAN, interdisciplinary artist, VR/360/XR, musician, composer, filmmaker, producer and actor
  • DUSTIN HARVEY, theatre maker, creative director and tinkerer; project curator, XOSECRET
  • FREYA BJÖRG OLAFSON, intermedia artist; assistant professor, Department of Dance, York University
  • MEAGAN BYRNE, Lead Game Designer and Owner of indie game studio Achimostawinan Games; former Digital + Interactive Coordinator, imagineNATIVE
  • SANDRA RODRIGUEZ, director, immersive, interactive experiences (VR/AI); visiting scholar and lecturer HackingXR, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Creative Producers – UK:

  • ANDREA SALAZAR, co-founder and Executive Director, Darkfield, a multi-sensory sonic theme park as well as makers of 3D storytelling at home experiences; specializes in site specific immersive experimental performance
  • CHI THAI, Founder of Last Conker, a BFI Vision awarded production company working across international film and television, animation and immersive
  • HANNAH BRADY, Creative Producer for Squidsoup the award winning digital arts collective and the South West Creative Technology Network, Watershed
  • JON MEGGITT, co-founder, Arcade, a digital practice specializing in immersive technology
  • KIRSTY JENNINGS, multidisciplinary producer; Company Producer, Anagram, a creative studio specializing in interactive/immersive storytelling and experiences
  • MATTHEW SHAW, co-founder, ScanLAB Projects, an award-winning creative studio exploring the world through digital replicas of objects, people, places and events

Creative Producers – Canada:

  • ATHOMAS GOLDBERG, VR creator and producer; co-founder, Shocap Entertainment, an entertainment production company specializing in live XR events and performances
  • EMILY PAIGE, co-founder, E.D. FILMS, an animation studio and digital tools maker; awarded producer of animated film, VR, and immersive experiences
  • ERIN RAY, Creative producer, interactive documentaries, augmented reality experiences, and virtual reality projects
  • RACHAEL HOSEIN, co-founder/CCO, Flipside XR; Vice-Chair, New Media Manitoba Board of Directors; co-founder, Winnipeg Alternate Reality Club
  • SHABNAM REZAEI, founder, Big Bad Boo Studios and Oznoz SVOD platform
  • VINCENT MORISSET, Director and founder of studio AATOAA (interactive films, installations, XR)

Through a series of bespoke sessions, these participants will receive mentorship from leading experts from across the UK and North American creative landscapes, including Deepa Mann-Kler (Chief Executive, Neon; Professor, Immersive Futures, Ulster University Northern Ireland); Liz Rosenthal (Curator of Immersive Content, Venice VR, Venice International Film Festival; Executive Producer, CreativeXR; CEO/Founder, Power to the Pixel); Toby Coffey (Head of Digital Development, National Theatre); Marc Boothe (Founder, B3 Media; Producer, Talentlab); Nick DeMartino (President, Nick DeMartino Consulting); Myriam Achard (Chief, New Media Partnerships and Public Relations, PHI Centre); Audrey Pacart (XR Executive Producer & Consultant, Very Story) and Amy LaMeyer (Managing Partner, The WXR Fund).

For more information on the UK-Canada Immersive Exchange, please visit:

About StoryFutures Academy

StoryFutures Academy is the UK’s National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London. Funded as part of UK Research and Innovation’s Audience of the Future industrial strategy challenge fund, the Academy develops cutting-edge creative training and research programmes, to ensure the UK creative workforce is the most skilled in the world in the use of VR, AR and MR for immersive storytelling.

Alumni of StoryFutures Academy labs have so far included Oscar and BAFTA winning Director Asif Kapadia, Oscar winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin, Turner Prize winning conceptual artist Gillian Wearing OBE, and Channel 4 Documentaries Commissioning Editor Fozia Khan.

Over £500,000 GBP has been invested in UK immersive production, across co-productions with BBC3, and Production Booster and Kickstart development funding. The award-winning VR Documentary Common Ground was the first-ever funded co-production, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in early 2019. Violence, an artistic collaboration between film director Shola Amoo (The Last Tree) and producer Eleanor Whitley (Marshmallow Laser Feast), had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, as part of the Cannes XR Virtual at the Marché du film de Cannes, held online and in virtual reality, in June 2020.

Twitter: @StoryFuturesA | Instagram: @StoryFuturesA | Facebook: @StoryFutures Academy | LinkedIn: StoryFutures Academy

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Website: | Twitter: @ace_national

About the Canadian Film Centre

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is a registered charity and a leading cultural organization for the development and advancement of Canadian creative and entrepreneurial talent in the screen-based industries. CFC’s programs and initiatives span film and television, screen acting, composing and songwriting for the screen, and digital and immersive media. These uniquely designed programs support and empower Canadian artists, creators and entrepreneurs, and generate world-class talent, content, products and companies for the global marketplace.

The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab) is an internationally acclaimed production think tank, training institute and business accelerator that supports hundreds of emerging digital content creators, practitioners, entrepreneurs and companies. It offers programs and initiatives that provide visionary leadership and extensive expertise in strategy, product, business, finance, and ethics needed by Canadians involved in the digital revolution, including an innovative suite of programs focused on intersectional feminist business practices.

CFC Media Lab Facebook | CFC Media Lab Twitter | CFC Media Lab Instagram | CFC Twitter | CFC Facebook | CFC Instagram | CFC News

About Canada Media Fund

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, promotes, develops and finances the production of Canadian content and relevant applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment through fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through industry and private sector partnerships. To learn more, please visit

Twitter in English: @CMF_FMC | Twitter en français: @CMF_FMC_FR | Facebook in English: | Facebook en français: @cmf.fmc | LinkedIn: Canada Media Fund | Fonds des médias du Canada

About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder.

The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments contribute to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene that reaches across Canada and abroad. The Council’s investments foster greater engagement in the arts among Canadians and international audiences. | Connect with us on social media

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