Praxis Guests

David Barlow

David Barlow co-created and executive produced the TV series, Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy (with Charles Lazer) and Seeing Things (with Louis del Grande).  The Cowboy pilot was CBC TV's highest-rated movie of the 1997/98 season and Seeing Things was twice awarded the Gemini for Best Comedy Series.

David's credits include:  Peacekeepers (producer), a drama about Canadian soldiers serving in Croatia, Breaking All the Rules (producer-director), a comedy-drama about the creation of the board game Trivial Pursuit, and Street Legal – Last Rights (co-written with Maureen McKeon), the finale to the long-running CBC series.  Series experience includes story-editing and writing on Blue Murder, Cold Squad, E.N.G., North of 60 and Max Glick (Gemini Award – Best Writing in a Series).  Chasing the Dream, a documentary he produced (with Peter Raymont and William Thomas), was nominated for a Gemini as Best Sports Program. 

David has conducted professional screenwriting workshops across Canada, in Singapore (for Praxis), and in Dublin.  He is the recipient of the Writers Guild of Canada Writer’s Block Award for service on behalf of Canadian screenwriters and the Margaret Collier Award for his body of work and his contribution to the Canadian television industry.

Melanie Friesen

Melanie Friesen began her career in London England as a literary agent for film and television writers and directors. She was then appointed Creative Director of MGM/UA in the UK, finding material and talent for the studio, then headed by Alan Ladd Jr.

After two years in Los Angeles as Creative Director for Cineplex Odeon Films, she met Martin Scorsese who offered her the position of Head of Development with his company, Scorsese Productions, in New York.

Melanie returned to Vancouver 15 years ago to produce the Trade Forum at the Vancouver International Film Festival. She is also on the board of the Harold Greenberg Fund and has conducted pitching workshops in Luxembourg, Hungary, Wales, Mexico, and The Republic of Georgia and in Vancouver for Praxis and the Vancouver Film School.

Lydia Kwa

Lydia Kwa lives and works in Vancouver as a writer and psychologist.
She has published three books: The Colours of Heroines (poetry, 1994); This Place Called Absence (novel, 2000); and The Walking Boy (novel, 2005).

Excerpts from a long experimental poem Roadbook: Suite of Hands can be found in Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets (Persea, 2005). For more details, see

Maureen Parker

Maureen Parker is the Executive Director of the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC), which represents more than 1,800 English-language freelance screenwriters working in film, television, radio and new media. 

A dedicated advocate for Canadian screenwriters for over 15 years, Maureen is the WGC policy spokesperson on such issues as public funding, the regulatory environment and copyright.

With Maureen as chief negotiator, the WGC has concluded collective agreements with independent producers (APFTQ and CFTPA) and broadcasters such as the CBC, NFB, TVOntario, CTV and Global. She is also the Executive Director of the Canadian Screenwriters Collection Society (CSCS), which was established by the WGC in 1998 to collect authors’ levies in other countries for Canadian screenwriters.

In addition, through Maureen’s leadership, the WGC became a founding member of the Coalition of Canadian Audio-visual Unions (CCAU), which brings together a united group of cultural unions to focus on common issues.

Maureen is also a Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Cultural Diversity (CCD), and sits on the Actra Fraternal Benefit Society’s Board of Governors.

Jon Vorhuas

John Vorhaus is best known as the author of The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You're Not.  This seminal book on writing comedy for television and film has been translated into three languages and serves as a definitive source of information and inspiration for writers worldwide.

Vorhaus'  television writing credits include Married... with Children, Head of the Class, The Sentinel, The Flash and more.  His screen credits include Extreme Close-up and Save Angel Hope.

An international consultant in television and film script development, Vorhaus has worked for television networks, film schools, production companies and film funding bodies in 19 countries on four continents. Projects include a Swiss situation comedy, a Swedish adventure series, and a Nicaraguan social-action drama designed to teach the young people of that country to "think for themselves and practice safe sex."

Vorhaus is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University and a member of the Writers Guild of America.  He has consulted to Walt Disney Feature Animation and taught at such institutions as Northwestern University, the American Film Institute and the Writers Program of the UCLA Extension.  He is the author of a dozen books, including Creativity Rules! A Writer's Workbook and the Killer Poker series.