Shaftesbury Supports Filmmakers in High School

Initiates Master Classes and Donates $25,000 to Film Program at Etobicoke School of the Arts.

TORONTO, March 23 /CNW/ - Christina Jennings, Chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury Films announces the sponsorship of the first film major program for a Canadian high school and offered at the Toronto District School Board's Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA). The announcement will be made on the set of Shaftesbury Films' new series for Family Channel called BAXTER, which is set in the fictional Northern Star School of the Arts. This partnership represents the first time a Canadian film and television production company is collaborating with a public school program in Ontario to provide a broad range of experiential learning opportunities for film major students and staff.

As well as providing a $25,000 donation, Shaftesbury will initiate a program of set-visits for the film major students and will establish a series of Master Classes with the company's senior staff and selected talent to enhance the film program at ESA. In April, award-winning actress/singer/dancer Cynthia Dale will give the first Master Class to the Film, Musical Theatre and Drama students at the school. Dale guest stars as a leading drama instructor in upcoming episodes of BAXTER.

Shaftesbury Films is a leader in the teenage television market both nationally and internationally. "We are thrilled to contribute to the training and development of teens in high school," commented the company's Chairman and CEO Christina Jennings. "We applaud Etobicoke School of the Arts for embracing film as a major subject. We will follow the development of these student filmmakers with great interest."

Etobicoke School of the Arts was founded in 1981 as a specialized arts-academic high school and has the distinction of being the oldest, free-standing arts focused high school in Canada. Named the best school in Toronto by Toronto Life (2006), ESA features Drama, Dance, Visual Arts, Music, Musical Theatre and their newest program, Film which was initiated in 2008-09. Admission to the school is by academic excellence and audition.

Says ESA Principal Kathleen McCabe, "We are very grateful to Shaftesbury for this generous gift and look forward to working with their talent over the next years. We have many ambitions for this program which will have its first graduating class in 2012. Many gifted students have attended this school and gone on to great professional success. We expect the same results from our film program."

BAXTER is a half hour live-action comedy that follows Baxter McNab (Evan Williams, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and his friends on their journey through the unique, high-energy world that is Northern Star School of the Arts. At a school where the students will do anything they can to stand out, the stress of a math test is nothing compared to that dance solo, or music recital, or monologue, or - you get the idea. Though his stand-up comedy style might rub some teachers (and other students) the wrong way, Baxter will see that great friends are the key to survival, and that Northern Star is a crazy amazing way to spend high school. The series also stars Holly Deveaux, Kyle Mac, Brittany Bristow, Shannon Kook-Chun, Tara Joshi, and Dewshane Williams.

About Shaftesbury Films:

Founded in 1987, Shaftesbury Films has established a reputation as one of Canada's leading producers of high quality film, television and multi-format programming. Recent productions include; the drama series Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures for HBO Canada based on the Giller Prize-Winning book by Dr. Vincent Lam; the drama series The Listener for CTV and Fox International Channels; the third season of the Murdoch Mysteries for Citytv and UKTV's Alibi; ReGenesis for The Movie Network, Movie Central and Showcase; the record breaking TV movies In God's Country and Eight Days to Live, starring Kelly Rowan for CTV; and The Robber Bride, the Emmy-nominated TV movie starring Gemini award-winner Mary-Louise Parker for CBC. Shaftesbury Films also produces a variety of kids' programming, including 70 episodes of the Gemini winning series Life with Derek, for Family Channel and broadcast in over 120 countries worldwide and the soon to be released movie based on the series Vacation with Derek. In late 2008 Shaftesbury acquired Smokebomb Entertainment, an award-winning developer of original multiplatform digital content and has embarked on the creation and production of original online production. Visit the Shaftesbury website at


For further information: For further information: Sue Baldaro, Unit Publicist, (416) 363-1411 X 154, C (647) 802-0739,

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