FTM and Reel Pride Panel

Film Training Manitoba and the Reel Pride International Film Festival are partnering on a Q and A panel on working as a filmmaker in Manitoba’s growing film industry. This session is moderated by FTM’s Sydney Sabiston, featuring four Manitoba film professionals on September 27 at 10:00 p.m. at the Gas Station Arts Centre.

Alex Nguyen – Filmmaker

Alex Nguyen (they/them) is a queer, non-binary filmmaker based in Winnipeg. They have won the 2021 Fascinasian Best Anti-Racism Short Film (Youth) award for their short film Not You. They have also co-directed episodes of the upcoming Maria and the Menno’s Sitcom. Alex’s projects and content strive to showcase and represent minority communities, specifically the 2SLGBTQ* BIPoC community.

Alex has been doing drag for the last five years as Ruby Chopstix. They have been setting the work in by creating The Velvet Rope: A BIPoC Showcase and Party, creating their own house for BIPoC called The Dynasty, creating a workshop for Rainbow Resource Centre’s Camp Aurora, hosting the children’s stage and performing on the main stage during Pride, opening for Canada’s Drag Race Season 2 Tour, and participating in all Ai-Kon 2023 drag events!

Courtney Maertens – Camera Assistant / Independent Filmmaker / Dancer / Multidisciplinary Artist

Courtney Maertens (25, she/her), is an independent artist, dancer and filmmaker based in Winnipeg with a particular passion for Screendance. She holds a B.A. Honours in Dance and Theatre & Film from the University of Winnipeg in affiliation with the School of Contemporary Dancers. Courtney has had the privilege of working alongside many unique artists and has had several opportunities to work in both the performing arts and film production. She is heading into her third year of working in the film industry as a Camera Assistant and Camera Operator and has been a part of several union and non-union productions, including features, documentaries, commercials, music videos, etc. She also has produced and created a number of her own independent dance films, many of which point to her extensive knowledge of dance and movement-based storytelling. Alongside her career in the film industry, she has participated in live dance performances and film screenings at Skylines Dance and Film Series, toured a contemporary dance show across Mexico and, most recently, starred in a dance film shot in Montreal this past summer.

Daphne Finlayson – Director / Creator

Daphne (she/her) is a director and creator based in Winnipeg. She is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a BA in Theatre and Film Studies. After receiving the 2021 Reel Pride David Wyatt Scholarship, she graduated with honours from the inaugural Red River College Digital Film and Media Production program. Directing credits include How to Live Forever, The Other Woman, Fashionably Late, She’s Not There, Come Together, (Art)ist (Hypothetical Projects); Inhibition Exhibition, Embracing Shadows, (Director of Photography/Editor, Village Conservatory); 12th Night: A Musical (Assistant Director, The Village Conservatory/The Keep Theatre); It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (Apprentice Director, RMTC).. Daphne is also an accomplished producer, having programmed a slate of original digital programming for the Village Conservatory as well as Rainbow Stage’s Digital Studio. She was shortlisted for the 2023 Harry S. Rintoul Award for Best New Manitoban Play and was a finalist in the 2022 RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition. Her documentary short film titled “The Other Woman, or Monogamy? In this Economy?” is playing September 27 at the Reel Pride International Film Festival.

Coby Friesen

Coby Friesen (he/him/his) is a queer pansexual filmmaker living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a theatre performance background, Coby has always performed in some capacity, whether in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, starring in local short films or most recently sharing a few scenes alongside the acting legend, Malcolm McDowell, in the upcoming film Psycho Killer. However, Coby’s true passion lies in filmmaking. Over the years, working on set, participating in events such as the 48 hour film contest and being a finalist at the 2022 Gimli International Film Festival RBC pitch competition have all served as important milestones in his career. Most recently, Coby made his first short film, Hook up, which had its world premier at the 35th annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival, just this last august. Coby currently has lots of ideas for more shorts and features but is mostly focusing, alongside his producing partner, Kat Gallagher, on developing Hook up, into a T.V. anthology series. His short film “Hook Up” is playing September 27 at the Reel Pride International Film Festival.


Sydney Sabiston is a Manitoba based actress and filmmaker. After graduating from The University of Winnipeg’s Theatre & Film program, she began her journey on set as an Assistant Director. With a special interest in acting in and producing horror films, she then made her way on screen and has notable acting credits, including: Time Cut, All Fun and Games, Psycho Killer, Acting Good, Levels, Etc. While Sydney continues to pursue her passion and growing career as an actress, she works at Film Training Manitoba as their Training and Partnerships Manager. Sydney is passionate about building strong relationships with our local crew and talent here in Manitoba and tries to support and champion those around her.

FTM is a member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program through the Department of Economic Development and Training. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates with members of the film and television industry to identify the training needs within the community.