Whistler Film Festival Market Preparation Mentorship

2023 Mentee Announced!



Program Overview

The GEMS – Whistler Film Festival (WFF) Market Preparation Mentorship is a development program that provides a producer, director or writer the opportunity to take a feature film or series concept to market.

The chosen mentee will receive a WFF Industry Pass to attend the Whistler Film Festival + Summit (November/ December), as well as a personal coaching session with an experienced producer prior to the festival. This private coaching session will cover several topics to prepare the Mentee to pitch their project(s) during the 1+1 meetings during the WFF Content + Summit.

Key Dates

July 19, 2023
Applications Open
August 31, 2023
Application Deadline
Personal Coaching Phase
Pitching workshop for mentee
November 29 to December 3, 2023
Whistler Film Festival

Program Outline

The goal of the mentorship will be to provide the recipient with an opportunity to prepare their project pitch for presentation to potential collaborators, funders and partners at the Whistler Film Festival. The recipient will receive valuable insight into how to pitch their project, and build their career. 

Prior to the festival, the mentee will participate in personal coaching sessions with a Producer or Marketing Executive mentor personally chosen by WFF and GEMS.

Topics for personal coaching may include:

  • Creating a one-sheet.
  • Pitching advice.
  • Who is buying what?
  • Which funders to target with your project.
  • How to add cachet and marketable elements to your project.
  • How to build an audience for the project.
  • How to market your project.

Following the personal coaching session, the mentee will attend 1+1 meetings with Summit guests to pitch their project. 


There is an application fee ($30 + GST). We are committed to removing barriers for underrepresented filmmakers. If this fee is a barrier to your applying, please email patrycja@gemsvancouver.org for a waiver.

We will provide accommodations for three (3) nights in Whistler (Wed, Thurs, Fri). The mentee is responsible for all other travel, accommodation and expenses while at the festival.

Applicant Eligibility

You are eligible to apply if you:

  • Are a current voting member of GEMS (you may join at the time of application).
  • Identify as female or gender diverse.
  • Reside in British Columbia.
  • Are a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status, and are aged 18 or over.
  • Have a feature film project or a series project (documentary or fiction) in development suitable for pitching at the festival.
  • Own the intellectual property rights of the submitted project.
  • Are available to attend WFF in November/December.
  • Can write social media posts for GEMS and WFF during the festival dates.
  • Are willing to actively participate in social media engagement to promote the festival and GEMS programs.
  • Will complete a final report within two weeks of completing the mentorship, to be submitted to both WFF and GEMS.
Only one person per project may apply. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact patrycja@gemsvancouver.org.

Application Requirements

  • Completed Application including upload of Required Materials (listed below)
  • Application Fee paid

Please have the following ready when submitting your application:

    1. A one-page synopsis of your feature film or series project
    2. Applicant CV with filmography (max. 2 pages)
    3. A one-page description of the project’s development history to date, and listing any attached key creatives (include bio/info links, if possible)
    4. A one-page letter outlining how you and your project will benefit from the mentorship

Please note that each of the required materials should come as a single PDF file, and should be named using the format APPLICANTNAME_COMPONENT (for example: JANEDOE_PITCHDECK, JANEDOE_LETTEROFINTENT, etc).

Application Instructions

Applications are now closed.

Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed and selected by a jury of industry professionals and WFF representatives and will be announced by GEMS in early October.


Shaelyn Johnston

​​Shaelyn Johnston is an award-winning Ojibwe and Irish-Canadian writer from Vancouver, BC. She is a recipient of the Governor General’s History Award for her short story, Anishinaabemowin, which she is adapting into a short film set to go into production this fall. She is also a 2023 Whistler Screenwriters Lab participant, sits on the board of the Gender Equity in Media Society (previously WIFT Vancouver), and recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC.




Laura Arboleda

Laura is a Colombian filmmaker and programmer currently based in “Vancouver”. Her documentary practice explores shared memories and spaces through a process-based experimental approach. She is committed to advocating for equity and representation in the film industry through her programming work at the Vancouver International Film Festival, DOXA, GEMS, and Vancouver Short Film Festival.




Helene Taylor 

Helene, a West Coast Canadian screenwriter, specializes in IP with underdog protagonists inspired by her blue-collar upbringing. Selected for the 2022 GEMS/WFF Market Mentorship Program and 2022 Pacific Screenwriters WFF/Storyroom Program, she blends genres from comedy to grounded sci-fi through female perspectives, reflecting unconventional bonds and systemic issues. A background in unscripted production/story editing (winning a CCTA) and decades in the film industry, Helene’s experience spans above and below-the-line roles, such as on the procedural series Mercy, Nurse Jackie, and Prime Suspect. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I am not available for the Whistler Festival in person dates. Can I apply?

No. Full participation is required. Applicants will have an opportunity to declare any barriers to their full participation such as childcare, travel or accommodation, when applying. If selected, GEMS will provide funds to assist with barriers.

What rights does GEMS have on the project?

All copyright remains with the mentee. 

Program Partner

The Whistler Film Festival Society is a charitable cultural organization dedicated to furthering the art of film by providing programs that focus on the discovery, development and promotion of new talent culminating with a must-attend festival for artists, industry and audiences in Whistler. Find out more at whistlerfilmfestival.com.