Telus Storyhive Team Wins TAC’s Pitch This! Competition


The team of Denver Jackson and Alain Williams won the Pitch This! Competition at the Ottawa International Animation Festival’s TAC with their pitch for the 13 x 22 min. series Somnius. The project is an extension of their Telus Storyhive short, S.O.S., mentored by Canada’s National Screen Institute with producer, Rose-Anne Tisserand.

The premise of the project centers on Aria, a young descendant of a secret order of peaceful monks, who follows in her lost mother’s footsteps on a pilgrimage across the galaxy in search of clues to a hidden mystical power. Somnius’ designers pay homage to the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli with their animation style. (One of the judges called their project a love letter to the studio.)

As part of their prize, Jackson and Williams won

  • A development deal with Nelvana
  • Toon Boom Animation software licenses for Harmony and Storyboard Pro, plus training
  • Entertainment legal services from Edwards PC, Creative Law

Jackson and Williams competed against nine other pitches from six countries in a semi-final round. The event’s judges were Athena Georgaklis, head of development, Nelvana, Corus Entertainment; Drew Mullin, exec in charge of production, CBC Kids; Nicole Rivera, director of development, original series, Cartoon Network; and Linda Simensky, VP of children’s programming, PBS.

Denver and Alain said, as part of their pitch, that they were there as Telus Storyhive award winners and mentored by NSI…and offered up a huge public thank you before showing a clip of S.O.S. (which is available on Telus Optik Local YouTube channel). Storyhive is a community-powered funding program for emerging content creators in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. For more info, visit





  • Fred

    Does not sound like those creators are from planet earth or know what kids like, and are just out to push their own agenda on children. :( I always remember thinking these types of shows felt so contrived and mind numbing and boring as a kid.

    • Batman?

      Do go on about this ‘agenda’ being pushed.

    • AJ

      SO, without knowing anything about the content, you think there’s an ‘agenda’ being pushed? The only thing that comes out of the stories they’ve done so far is self-sacrifice, survival, love, innocence… if that’s the ‘agenda’ they’re pushing, then bring it on. The world needs more of that.

      • Kureisan28

        I think it’s more on using a black female character appearing as if the agenda is on more representation for the sake of representation (liberal) than writing good characters (which most of the time turns out to be the default white male lead character) and serialized stories too complex for the kids demo who normally have short attention spans to only sit through funny cartoony stories and helps reruns.

        IMO, I’m all for well-written good characters even if we mostly see white characters in the end result. But sometimes if the end result turns out to be POC or female, and yet has the same written approach as the default race (maintaining that personality. motives, and characteristics are considered first while skin color/gender is considered later on or lastly) and tries to not lean towards politics too much, then it’s okay.

        In terms of the kind of show (serialization like Avatar the Last Airbender), I think there are a bunch of kids out there, even those already grown up who actually liked the kind of shows dealing with continuity, thought-provoking themes, smart comedy, and the sense of enjoyment common in movie storytelling, more than just a one off silly story that resets the status quo in the next episode. That doesn’t mean all one off funny cartoons are inherently bad. Some do have their charm and enjoyment. But serialization on the other hand (or serialized comedies mixing two kinds like Gravity Falls, Adventure Time, etc.) enhances growth in characters’ arcs, the sense of discovery, the stakes in conflict internal or external, etc. adds more value to the kids and even adults wanting fresh enjoyment and worth their time.

        But I guess not everyone can enjoy the type of stories. And that’s okay. Where I’m coming from, just stating my two cents in how entertaining stories can be enjoyed by different people’s interests.