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(Application Deadline Oct 1, 2024)


Blood in the Snow Film Festival was created to push the envelope with Canadian genre film, specifically, and has dedicated the last ten years promoting our independent genre cinema. This niche film festival also strives to be the leader in supporting diversity in genre films. We have showcased films representing diverse folklore and culture, including Indigenous and French-language films and actors with disabilities. It's our goal to represent as many communities as possible in the already underrepresented genre film arena. The programming team makes a concerted effort to select based on content, representation, and quality of films so that our diverse audiences feel represented.

Blood in the Snow has also prioritized diversity by hosting panels with esteemed guests from the Black, Asian, Indigenous, and Latinx communities during the Deadly Exposure Industry Market, a well-received and sought-after industry event connecting filmmakers to industry professionals and opportunities to promote their work. They have become areas where frank discussions with filmmakers and industry insiders take place to incite change. Topics at past panels included: 'Kickass Women in Canadian Horror," "Diversity in Genre Film," and "Undoing Tropes with Cultural Sensitivity." These discussions are essential to expanding Canadian filmmakers' views to become more inclusive with their stories and casting and encourage those who may not have felt there was a space for them.

We have also partnered with other festivals in the community to boost the visibility of diverse genre films to different audiences. Recent collaborations include partnering with the Toronto Black Film Festival to present the South African horror The Tokoloshe and the ImagiNATIVE Film Festival midnight horror shorts program, which we have co-presented for several years.

As much as we advocate for diverse genre films in Canada, there is always a need for more representation within the Canadian genre film spectrum. As a part of the 2024 Deadly Exposure industry conference, the Blood in the Snow Horror Development Lab was created to boost BIPOC, LGTBQ+, women and other underrepresented creators in genre film across Canada. With this program, the festival facilitates the advancement of filmmakers from these communities in the filmmaking process to ensure their projects are taken from script to screen with the help of industry professionals.

(Photography by Anais Are, Horror Development Lab 2022)



The BITS Horror Lab is a development program focused on facilitating business and production opportunities for genre (horror, sci-fi, action, thriller) scripted projects and shorts films by traditionally underrepresented BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ+ Canadian filmmakers and content creators. The Horror Lab will support 12 short-form film concepts or web series in development with the intention of moving these concepts into a feature film or a web series project.

This program is less aimed at mentorship and more about access to business development. Accepted participants will meet with top industry professionals during the Blood in the Snow Film Festival from November 18 to 20, 2024. Participants and industry professionals will follow up on projects and initiatives in early 2025. Horror Lab participants will have scheduled workshops with established industry professionals focusing on developing their projects. All participants will also have access to the Deadly Exposure Industry Market during the festival.

The Horror Lab participants will receive the following:

  • Filmmakers will receive advice and feedback on their short-to-feature pitches from established directors, producers, and broadcasters.
  • Industry leads and will challenge the participants to push their vision through to the very end by identifying and navigating through any development obstacles and changes.
  • A curated itinerary including a focus on marketing and distribution, scheduled market meetings with attending industry advisors and leads, and short film screenings and pitch feedback.
  • Each participant receives a few post-festival industry advisor sessions from January to March 2025 with a program "Industry Leader."
  • Participants will leave with advice on how to revise their package and move forward with it.
  • Participants will leave with important film business insights and connections.
  • Industry/peer networking opportunities.
  • Participants will receive a free Screening & Industry Pass to attend the 2024 Blood in the Snow Film Festival + Deadly Exposure.

Who can apply?

Although applications would be open to everyone, we will give priority to those with or more of the following criteria:

  • Black
  • Indigenous, Metis or Inuit
  • Person of Colour
  • LGBTQ2IA+*(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, and other identities that fall outside cisgender and heterosexual paradigms.)
  • Women*
  • Disabled (visible and invisible)*

    * For all applicants, priority acceptance will be given to projects with BIPOC representation in front and behind the camera.

If you applied to the 2023 Horror Lab and DID NOT make the program, you can apply again. Please DO NOT apply again if you were accepted last year. You are, however, able to apply for the 2026 program.

The lead Lab particpant also must:

  • Must be a Canadian citizen
  • Must plan to shoot their film project primarily in Canada
  • Must have completed at least one polished, completed short film (3 to 30 minutes in length)
  • Must feel that they are ready to make a feature film (or multi-episode web series)
  • This is a HORROR development lab, so the film needs to be some type of "genre" project that is horror, sci-fi, action or thriller

What do you need in your application?

All applications this year will be submitted through Film Freeway and must include the following:

  • At least one previous completed short film that is either its own project or short done as proof of concept. (under 30 minutes)
  • A 2 to 3 page pitch book/proposal (in pdf) uploaded to Film Freeway describing the project. Please include a story description, bios of the team attached, a general budget summary and anything else you'd like to tell us about the project.

There is a small application fee ranging from $10 to $25, depending on when you apply. If you are financially unable to submit, then you can request a waiver.

Other important details:

  • The attendee can be the Producer/Director and/or primary writer of the project and have the full rights to the proposed project.
  • All rights remain with the filmmaker, and BITS has no proprietary interest in any of the projects.
  • Although the mentor lab will be in English, Francophone, Indigenous language, and other language projects are welcome and encouraged.
  • Applicants must commit to attending the program in person from November 20 to 25, 2023, in Toronto, Canada.
  • Applicants must be Canadian citizens and reside in Canada.
  • Applicants must demonstrate ownership of or option on all underlying rights (if any) to your film project.
  • Up to two people per project will be allowed to attend the program (budget permitting).
  • You DO NOT need to be alumni of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival to be a part of the program.
  • You can apply for both the festival and the lab with the same application on Film Freeway. There is an option when you apply for the lab to also be considered for the festival.
  • We strongly suggest that you upload a second version of your film on Film Freeway if it's already there so that the file for your pitch isn't visible for your other festival submissions you may be doing. If you are unable to do this, please contact us at, and we can make other arrangements.


January 1, 2024
Applications open

October 1, 2024
Final Application deadline.

October 15, 2024
Notification date to know if you were accepted.

November 20-22, 2024
Horror Development Lab in downtown Toronto. Three days of development and two days of intensive Deadly Exposure events (including panels and round tables). Your pass to the lab will also include a screening pass to all the films in the evenings.

January-March 2025
A series of one-on-one meetings (online) with your assigned Industry Lead for followup.


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Carolyn Mauricette, Development Coordinator and Programmer

Carolyn Mauricette (she/her) is a Toronto-based film writer and programmer for the Blood in the Snow Film Festival. Carolyn is the Director of Canadian Programming for Fantasia International Film Festival. She has written pieces on diversity, women in sci-fi, and film reviews for Graveyard Shift Sisters and Cinema Axis; both online and print editions of Rue Morgue Magazine and Grim Magazine, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

Keda Edwards Pierre, Development Advisor

As a retired police officer, Keda brings a unique and authentic voice to her consultancy and content development work. After 27 years with Toronto Police, law school and an acting background in Film & TV, she's emerging as a producer with grit. Keda's driven by uncovering the under-told stories of underrepresented communities and amplifying the voices of underserved groups. Her content studio, Broken Whole Media, creates, develops and produces provocative scripted and unscripted content to transform the industry through A.R.T.S. (Amplifying diversity, Revolutionizing narratives, Transformative stories and Surpassing expectations).

Kelly Michael Stewart, Festival Director and Founder

Kelly Michael Stewart (he/him) began his career as a contributing film writer to Fangoria Magazine and has more than 250 reviews, interviews and articles published online and in print for various websites and publications. As a filmmaker, he wrote and produced the short film "One More For the Road" and co-wrote and produced the horror anthology feature film "Late Night Double Feature". Kelly founded both Blood in the Snow Film Festival in 2012 and the Deadly Exposure Industry Conference in 2018.


Rueben Martell

Rueben Martell was raised in Waterhen Lake First Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. Having heard Cree tall tales from his grandmother from a young age, he was enamoured with the oral tradition of storytelling. His imagination pushed him to make the images more physically represented in visual media. In January 2020, he finished principal photography on his first feature film, "Don't Say Its Name," for Chaos Films, which played Fantasia and BITS in 2021 and has been presold to Super Channel Canada. Rueben is currently developing a tv series "RedWater," a feature film script, "A Life Less Empty," and a feature film titled "Tied."

Elizabeth E. Schuch

Elizabeth is an award-winning filmmaker with a career that spans directing, storyboarding, and design, as well as producing VFX and indie features. Her debut feature as a director, indie art-house horror "The Book of Birdie," has an all-female cast and 75% female crew. The film won several accolades, putting her on the radar of female-driven genre filmmaking. In lockdown, Elizabeth co-directed the epic documentary "God's Soldiers: Siege of Malta." Beginning as a set designer, she won Chicago's top award for theatre just out of college ("Journey's End," David Cromer), then training in VFX in the UK led to her specialism in storyboards for VFX. Elizabeth works in a range of media: commercials, factual, TV, titles, graphics, IMAX, Dome, VR, projection, live events, and features (including "Wonder Woman.") Elizabeth is the co-creator and UK producer of the Greek monster movie "Minore" and lead producer at Melancholy Star studio, a production company producing VFX, indie features and art for film in London, Greece and Toronto. An avid genre filmmaker, Elizabeth is the art director for the celebrated Fantaspoa - International Fantastic Film Festival of Porto Alegre in Brazil.