The Genre Film Lab

Program Overview

The Genre Film Lab (formerly known as From Our Dark Side) is an accelerator program designed to support the development of effective finance, packaging and pitching strategies for Canadian genre film creators whose projects are at an advanced stage of development.

The Genre Film Lab program will begin in May 2024 with a masterclass on pitching and will culminate with a dedicated pitch session at the Frontières International Co-Production Market in July 2024. The sessions will include an introductory group pitch masterclass, three strategy sessions with genre industry experts focusing on financing and packaging, one-on-one pitch development sessions, and more.


2024 Finalists Announced

Key Dates

October 30, 2023
Info Session
October 31, 2023
Submissions Open
November 27, 2023
Submission Seminar & Workshop
December 1, 2023
Early Bird Deadline
January 9, 2024
Regular Deadline
February 9, 2024
Late Deadline
March 25, 2024
Finalists Confirmed
May to June, 2024
Program Dates


There is no cost to participate in the program. However some travel and accommodation costs may need to be covered by team members (a travel stipend will be provided for partial travel and accommodation expenses).

Applicant Eligibility

GEMS welcomes applications from all creators who are equity-deserving on the basis of gender. We believe in fostering an inclusive, equitable and accessible environment, where all participants and staff feel valued, respected and supported. We are dedicated to building a program that reflects Canada’s diversity and elevates equity-deserving voices. Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, people with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQIA+ people are strongly encouraged to apply.

  • Projects must be for a feature-length film
  • Projects should have a director and lead producer attached (preference is given to projects with director & producer attached; projects without will still be considered)
  • Writers & directors must be women or gender diverse, with preference given to teams who are all women or gender diverse.
  • First draft scripts are eligible, so long as they are complete.
  • Genre Film Lab (and From Our Dark Side) alumni and those who have submitted in the past are welcome to submit with full length scripts.
  • The program is open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents only and productions must qualify as Canadian

Project Eligibility

  • Project must be an ORIGINAL concept for a narrative feature film (*if the project is an adaptation, you must provide documented proof that you hold the rights to this adaptation).
  • Projects must not have entered production.
  • If your project has already secured any financing, you must submit proof of this financing and indicate the percentage you have not yet secured.
  • Project must qualify as GENRE in nature. Genre projects include, but are not limited to: thrillers, western, science fiction, fantasy and horror – or any imaginative combination of these.
  • Project must be written & directed by women and gender diverse people and contain a strong representation of roles for women and gender diverse people.
  • Project materials must be submitted in English but the project itself may be in any language (please indicate your project’s original language if it is non-English). Please note all related activities for winners will be conducted in English (efforts will be made to accommodate other languages when possible).
  • Applicants may apply with a maximum of two projects.
  • Co-writers and co-directors may apply, but all writers & directors must be women or gender diverse people.
  • In the case of co-writers & co-directors, each applicant may submit a maximum of two entries. For example, a writing team of two people may submit four projects total. Each entry requires its own registration and payment.
  • Applicants may submit a project that has been previously submitted to the program but they must indicate in what significant ways the project has been altered since its previous submission. Projects submitted without this additional documentation will not be considered.
  • Contestants retain all rights to their projects.
  • Feedback cannot be provided on any submissions.
  • Once an application is submitted, new or updated versions may not be submitted.
  • Entrants agree to indemnify and hold The Genre Film Lab, GEMS, including our employees, our officers, and our partners and affiliates harmless against all claims arising out of entry or participation in the contest.
  • By submitting your contest application, you agree that you have read, understood, and agree to all the aforementioned contest rules and regulations. You also assert that you are the author and owner of the original work.

Apply Now

Selection Process

April 1, 2024
Five projects selected and announced by a jury of top genre creators.

Early April 2024
Introductory session for the 5 selected projects.

May – July 2024
The program runs from May through July 2024.

Late July 2024
Consultations on packaging, financing and pitching concluded with participation at the Frontières International Genre film Finance and Packaging Forum held in conjunction with the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal in late July (confirmed dates TBD).

Projects will participate in a special pitch session at Frontieres and meet with leading international genre industry professionals.

*Please note that participation details and possible travel stipends will be subject to the structure of Frontières 2024.


Last year’s projects were evaluated and selected by a jury of filmmakers and genre industry experts including: Austin-based acquisitions manager, programmer, professor, and producer Logan Taylor, director, writer and actor Mary Galloway (Querencia) from the Cowichan Nation, and Shasha McArthur, a Nakota and Nehiyaw filmmaker and current Vice-President of the Board at GEMS. Leading the 2024 Genre Film Lab, for her third year, is filmmaker, programmer, educator and former Programming Director for Frontières International co-pro market Vanessa Meyer.

Funded & Presented by

The Genre Film Lab 2024, in partnership with Frontières, is proudly supported by: