Igniting Creativity

How Ottawa's Media Partnership Team is Transforming the City's Creative Landscape


In a collaboration that defies stereotypes and showcases the hidden artistic potential within Ottawa, Youth Ottawa, Hot Shoe Productions, the Ottawa Film Office, REEL CANADA, and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre came together to offer the Ottawa Pop-Up Film School last month, through government funding from the YESS (Youth Employment Skills Strategy) program.

This humble yet powerful initiative is reshaping Ottawa’s creative landscape and building a partnership team dedicated to inspiring young talent in the realms of film, television, animation, and media.

From June 26th to 30th, 15 selected youth participated in a five-day series of workshops introducing youth to the different roles and departments on a film set. The classes took place at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre and covered a variety of topics; such as a breakdown of departments and their roles, camera, production, post production, set etiquette, and more! Participants also had the opportunity to apply their new skills and knowledge by shooting a short film and learning about the pre-production process.  

The goal of the free program was to give underrepresented youth in Ottawa the chance to learn new skills and empower their creative side. Out of 78 total applicants ranging from the ages of 18-30, 15 were selected for this “Industry Incubating” course. The program encouraged youth to explore careers in filmmaking and gave them the tools necessary to do so. Once the course was finished, participants had basic filmmaking skills and were awarded $500 by REEL CANADA, in addition to access to paid internship opportunities for completing the five day Pop-Up Film School. 

Revitalizing Ottawa's Creative Scene

Ottawa has often been unfairly dismissed as a monotonous government town, with young creatives often encouraged to seek opportunities in larger cities like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. However, this emerging partnership team aims to challenge that perception and discover the untapped potential of Ottawa’s youth. The goal of “ The Pop-Up Film School” was to promote Ottawa as a production destination for film & TV and this five-day course did exactly that. 

Led by the visionaries at Youth Ottawa and with the guidance of Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos, Ottawa’s Film Commissioner, this collaboration is determined to reshape the narrative surrounding Ottawa’s creative energy. After this pop-up course, it is clear that filmmaking can thrive in any city and despite popular narratives, Ottawa’s youth can excel in the film industry. Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos highlights this creative energy by commenting,

“It was awesome to see how this group was eager to learn and how engaged and passionate they were about the film industry in Ottawa. These pop-up trainings are essential for our workforce development efforts. I am grateful to Youth Ottawa and REEL CANADA for making it possible, and we hope there will be more on a regular basis.”

Empowering Ottawa's Youth

The successful community-based offering of the Youth Active Media program represents a significant milestone for Youth Ottawa, marking their first-ever collaboration with the Ottawa Film Office, and their introduction of programming at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre. This achievement demonstrates the power of partnership and the shared commitment to empowering Ottawa’s youth, encouraging them to explore their creative passions.

Through mentorship and access to necessary resources, this partnership team is nurturing a new generation of filmmakers, animators, and media professionals within Ottawa. The program’s success not only fuels creativity but also provides valuable opportunities for these aspiring artists, highlighting the infrastructure and support available in the city.

One of the most successful aspects of this course was the partnerships that came together. Not only did Youth Ottawa connect with many other organizations that helped make the program possible, but the participants built partnerships with each other that enriched their learning process. Ben Bergeron (YAM Coordinator, Hot Shoe Productions Creative Director) mentions this collaborative spirit as he says, 

“I most enjoyed seeing all these incredible young people come together to work on making a film together. It was really incredible to see the participants grow from being nervous to touch the equipment on Day 1 to working together to make a film on the last day.”

Building a Supporting Community

With the unwavering support of the Ottawa Film Office, REEL CANADA, and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre, this partnership team is constructing a foundation where creativity can flourish. 

By pooling their resources, expertise, and industry connections, they are fostering an environment where young creatives can find inspiration, develop their skills, and connect with established professionals. 

Between the passionate participants and enthusiastic instructors, there was a “supportive environment [that] allowed everyone to freely express themselves and collaborate seamlessly. Without a doubt, being a part of this experience was unforgettable, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been involved,” says Colin Ziraldo (Hot Shoe Productions Employee, YAM Instructor). 

As students were able to come together to create their own short film at the end of the week and many of them even expressed that they will be directing their own short films in the future, it is proven that inclusive and empowering programs such as this one are crucial in cultivating the creative talent in our city. And thanks to REEL CANADA and YESS, we’re able to support the goal of having the training lead directly to paid paths in the film industry!

Beyond the immediate impact of the program, this collaboration aims to establish Ottawa as a welcoming hub for artists, filmmakers, and writers. By dispelling the misconception of Ottawa as a sleepy government town, this partnership team seeks to attract and retain young talent, enriching the city’s cultural scene and fostering its creative economy.

Joining the Partnership Team

If you are part of the film, television, animation, or media industry and share a passion for nurturing young creatives and cultivating the cultural landscape, Youth Ottawa’s Youth Active Media program and its partner organizations warmly welcome your involvement.

It is important to include all kinds of different voices in projects such as “The Pop-Up Film School” because that is what truly makes it special. After the completion of this program, Wendly Pierre (Program Participant, Hot Shoe Productions Photographer), highlighted this by saying,

“I enjoyed seeing everyone’s interests for the different departments & how they were drawn to specific things around filmmaking. I really liked what was taught. It definitely elevated me to a new level in terms of what goes on and off a set. The environment was very welcoming! Everyone got along very well. We were all different but worked together so nicely!”

By joining this growing partnership team, you can contribute to the development and vibrancy of Ottawa’s creative community. Your expertise, resources, and enthusiasm will help shape the future of aspiring artists, providing them with the necessary support and opportunities to succeed.

The team at Youth Ottawa is committed to creating strong partnerships and coming together with local volunteers and organizations. They constantly do their best to connect to their community in an effective way. After their latest partnership, Jack Blum from REEL CANADA attests to Youth Ottawa’s efforts in saying, 

“Youth Ottawa has been a fantastic partner.  The Reel Opportunities program depends on local organizations providing solid coordination, a high level of training, and connection to the communities we are trying to reach.  Youth Ottawa delivered all of these things in spades!”


Through the Youth Active Media program, in collaboration with Youth Ottawa, Hot Shoe Productions, the Ottawa Film Office, REEL CANADA, and the Nepean Creative Arts Centre, Ottawa’s creative scene is undergoing a transformative journey. Together, they humbly demonstrate that Ottawa holds untapped artistic potential and is far more than just a government town.

By empowering and inspiring Ottawa’s youth, this partnership team is fostering a community where creativity flourishes, careers take flight, and dreams become realities. They are challenging the notion that young creatives must seek opportunities elsewhere, working to establish Ottawa as a welcoming and vibrant destination for artists, filmmakers, and writers.

Come and be a part of this growing partnership team today. Together, we can contribute to Ottawa’s evolution into a city where creativity knows no boundaries, and the artistic spirit thrives.