Mia Ines Rivera


My time at Holiday and Nimble Content (HUG) literally shaped my career and confidence in the film industry for commercials and beyond. When I started at HUG  I quite honestly, didn’t understand what commercial production even was. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there was a whole industry for such a short piece of work. So to be frank, I knew very little about what I was getting myself into. The team and Holiday and Nimble knew this and welcomed me with open arms, meeting me exactly where I was and helping me learn things I didn’t know existed! As an intern, I was constantly asked about where I wanted to be in my career. Josefina and Derek made it clear that this internship was not to define me, but guide me to figure out the answer to this question. This gave me so much confidence, allowing me to think about my personal goals and learn skills that would support those goals throughout my internship. I think the internship at HUG  is different from other internships because of the genuine culture of support the company holds for each individual working there. HUG taught me me so many valuable tools. 

After my first 3-month summer long internship with Holiday and Nimble, I was left with skills that took some of my peers in film school 3-years to learn. Another wonderful part about this internship was the on-set experience it provides. Not only did I leave my internship understanding what happens behind the scenes, but I left it with the confidence to continue on-set as a Production Assistant on days that I had free from college classes. At only 19 years old, I confidently knew what the grips did and who to ask to help them out, what a DIT was, and clear understanding of their industry standard programs. I had personally helped the camera department on smaller Nimble Content shoots that allowed me to 3rd AC. I was connected to multiple producers and directors, who I still see on set to this day.

Today, I work full-time as a freelancer in the commercial industry because of my experience and ties to the HUG group. It has only been two years since I’ve graduated from school, and 4 years since my first internship with HUG I have since directed, produced, and edited my first film, “Faking It”. I have evolved into the art dept world of commercial production and have moved from set-dec, to buyer, to production designer, successfully designing two big budget commercials! And I have made various contacts throughout this journey that have led me into TV. Working on shows like Big Brother Canada and Drag Race! This year I plan to further my strengths as a Documentary Director while gaining more skills through the commercial industry. My favourite part about this industry, and I think many others can agree, is that it leaves some space between jobs to allow me to pursue my personal creative endeavours, just as Josefina and Derek intended.

Kyle Schmalenberg


I don’t remember how I first learned about Holiday Films but I do remember my first meeting. The Office Manager interviewed me at the old King St. office. I remember how she greeted me with interest and kindness.  When I learned I won the job, I was astonished when they told me it was also a paid position. At the end of my first week, a director took the whole staff out onto his boat and I was invited. Right from the start I felt very welcomed, and the boat party was a memorable way to end my first week.

The staff was inclusive, treated me with respect, introduced themselves as they crossed my path for the first time, and would take time to respond to my questions, and show me the work they were doing even if it wasn’t necessarily within the purview of my role in the office. As someone with a mixed identity (Black/White/Raised in China), I was very comforted to see a woman like Jo as an Executive Producer. I wouldn’t have been able to point to it then, but now I am acutely aware of how a diverse staff infuses the environment with a spirit that benefits everyone.

As an intern I was brought out onto set on a number of occasions which was fantastic as someone who had not had that experience before. The “Film Industry”, I quickly learned, has very strict ideas about what experience is good and valid. The hours you spend on set, what sets those are, union or non-union, etc.–I didn’t know these kinds of things mattered. The internship understood that and wanted me to not only have a good experience in the office, but also develop some kind of tangibles that would make me useful afterwards too. Because of that, and relationships I was able to build with the various crews I was on set with, I was able to work on some pretty good gigs (perhaps the most exciting was working with Jamie Oliver!).

To be honest, I think the experience, and the fact that THIS was my introduction into the film world, spoiled me and gave me an unrealistic expectation of how fast things would move afterwards. I thought I could leave and in no time I’d be on Holiday’s roster of directors helping them make cool content. But when I left, I was only really able to get work as a PA. Being a PA is fine work, but I wanted to be a director. So, I had to go out and find/make those opportunities for myself of course.

Now, after a lot of effort, diligence and luck, I have worked on many more cool commercial shoots–most recently as producer for an Air Miles spot. I have followed my interests in promoting justice and equality to work with NGOs at the United Nations in the form of videos that advocate gender equality as well as religious sovereignty. Some of this work has literally resulted in people on death-row for their religious beliefs in the Middle-East being freed. And last year, I incorporated a production company of my own. We’re called Wrapped Productions Inc. We’ve made short and long form documentaries with one more on the way, are developing a feature drama that I wrote, and have two other limited series shows that are in development based on books we’ve optioned. And, of course, I would still jump at the chance to work on something with Holiday Films one day to complete the circle!

I’m proud of the fact that I interned with Holiday. I’m glad that I got to know the folks there. Over the years I have bumped into them at various events where it’s clear that we’re still friends, and I actually still feel a sense of support from them. Being there was my first step on the long road of filmmaking. I value what I learned there, and feel they are with me even to this day. Recently, I’m even prouder having seen and been a part of the steps the  office has taken towards addressing our collective understanding of inclusivity, diversity, justice, equity, and responsibility.

Alyssa Asaro


Interning at HUG was my first real look into the commercial film industry. Through being able to go on set, being about to talk to freelancers working on different projects, and watching the commercial-making process from pre-production all the way through to post-production in Recess Post, it really helped me to understand the industry. I especially liked being able to work closely with Recess Post and have the opportunity to edit the website’s sizzle reel. Some of my other favourite moments was being able to be on set for a commercial with Annie Murphy from Schitt’s Creek and when we had a fun office outing going axe throwing, which was an awesome bonding experience with the whole office. Everyone at HUG really made me feel like I was part of a family there and I definitely made some great connections! Right now, I have some of my own short films in development with a small production company I’m starting up with some filmmaking friends and have recently been on set for the Netflix series, Locke & Key. 

Ipek Ertan


Interning at Holiday Films was a building block for me as it helped me network with industry professionals. Even though my internship was short lived due to covid, it proved to be extremely useful in my journey so far. I am currently working as a production assistant on a freelance basis and the Production Managers who hire me are all through the connections I made through the Holiday Films and Nimble office/set. Those connections also introduced me to new ones and I can say that my internship was the foot in the door for me into the film industry. I felt completely welcome in the Holiday/Nimble office throughout my time and the internship itself was a great opportunity along with a lot of guidance. One of my favourite moments was Derek taking the time to sit down with the interns and explaining how the commercial industry works by drawing charts and everything even though he did not have to and he probably is so busy. I appreciate that throughout, everyone in the office taught me a thing or two by the end and everyone was enthusiastic to do so!

Gio Benavidez


Being an intern with HUG was truly a dream come true. From the day I graduated my Media/TV Broadcasting program, I knew that I wanted to move  to Toronto and work in the industry. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy so I took every opportunity that I could to get my foot in the door. So when I found out about the internship program at Holiday, you already know —  I was all in. 

I’m sure everyone that has been in this internship program has their own unique experience but mine was especially different as the 3 month internship was cut very short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in the two months that I was there, I still learned so much and took the most out of the opportunity. 

As someone aspiring to become a Director and DoP, I was particularly excited to be on set. Coming from a small town in Ontario and knowing nobody in the industry, it wasn’t easy to get jobs in production, even as a PA. But while on set, I made sure that I brought my A-game, even if it’s just helping unload trucks, cleaning up and even being delegated little tasks. Being in productions gave me the chance to meet PA’s, Producers, Assistant Cameras, and DOP’s! I asked questions and got to know some of them, and how they got in the industry. The best part is that I’ve made connections that even offered to take me to their other projects so I can gain more experience in the industry. All of this would’ve not been possible if it wasn’t for this internship opportunity.

From treatments all the way to post-production, I was able to see and learn from the process that it takes to produce content and commercials. In every step of the process, I had my own takeaways and I was able to apply them to my personal work. From being a videographer that produced “cool videos,” I was able to transition to a more professional workflow that offers my clients a vision for their project from start to finish. 

This experience has opened so many doors for me. I have made meaningful connections with various people in the industry, and I was able to get a full-time job as a lead Digital Media Specialist for a corporation — producing professional online content for their products, which are heavily inspired by commercial productions. As for my freelance career, I am now looking to transition to do commercial projects and work with brands to help tell their stories. 

Even in my short time as an intern, I will always be grateful for each and everyone at HUG that I have met and worked with. Each person has shared some advice/story that I have learned from and was able to apply to my career as a young professional.

If given the chance, I would do this whole internship again. An internship like this can truly be a life changing opportunity for someone. 

Muna Youssouf


I am grateful to have met Josefina at the POV Charity bash, that’s where she gave me her business card. At that party there were many mouths full of empty gestures and opportunities. To Josefina I owe you a Huge thank you for truly listening. Another thank you is in order for accepting me without having a driver’s license, funny thing is I didn’t need it in order to do my job as an office intern, so that obstacle should be removed for an entry level position (Office Intern). Determination to work and learn in my eyes is the maximum requirements of an intern.

Being part of the Tuesday meetings was a great building block and an insight into the process of making commercials, from bidding a director, treatments  and how long it takes for that to transpire and the level of detail it requires. From choosing a director to carry the project to having the right producer and planning a well-researched budget.  I was able to see the nuances of the projects in process. 

Being on set was another valuable building block, from forming film connections, to seeing how they run their sets, hearing the set lingo, to being given responsibilities and most importantly being seen. After you appear on 3 sets or more people now recognize you, perhaps even learn your name or even better impart some wisdom & knowledge. 

I was usually the only black person on set, and If I wasn’t, I can count with one hand the times I saw black people on set where they were not the talent.

Giving women, especially women of colour a chance to be on set as part of a crew is important.  For Executive Producers, producers and PMs to widen their nets, to allow more people to be seated at that table is crucial. 

Equity Diversity Inclusion

Derek Sewell and Josefina Nadurata, a Filipina Canadian, co-founded Holiday Films as equal business partners in May 2008. Recognizing the cultural disparity in the industry, they resolved to build a culture of integrity and transparency at the company where anyone can realize their potential. Together, they made a commitment to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) was a foundational pillar on which Holiday Films was built.

Since the launch of Holiday Films in 2008, we have proudly developed 11 Canadian award winning directors and currently have 3 in development off roster.

The HUG Internship Program has mentored a total of 42 interns. More than 60% of these interns were female, BIPOC and/or LGBTQ2S. 

Currently, 50% of the partners and 50% of the staff at the Holiday United Group are BIPOC.

Today, Holiday United Group (HUG), its partner companies, staff, directors, editors, associated colleagues, and suppliers understand that maintaining a culture of EDI within the organization is paramount.

We understand these initiatives take hard work. We are committed to continuing to strengthen our ability to develop and nurture our core people and provide a supporting environment that allows our young up and coming BIPOC creators to realize their potential.

It is our continuing mission to uphold and further develop this culture we’ve worked so hard to build.

Intern Program

In Fall 2008, Holiday Films launched a paid internship program designed to help support and empower BIPOC/LGBTQ2S/female creators, crew, and talent in all facets of the filmmaking process. Since its inception, this program has mentored over 42 aspiring filmmakers, editors, producers and crew to help them realize their potential. Interested? Apply Here!

Here are some of our intern alumni. Click on their photos to read their stories.


  • Mia Ines Rivera

  • Kyle Schmalenberg

  • Alyssa Asaro

  • Ipek Ertan

  • Gio Benavidez

  • Muna Youssouf