Based on the Class of 2022 Video Production valedictorian’s award-winning short documentary of the same name, Radio Bingo follows foul-mouthed radio DJ Sage Goodleaf as she gets fired from her high-profile job in Toronto and moves back to the Indigenous reserve of Akwesasne to take care of her misfit father. In the process, she attempts to reboot her career at a struggling radio station that is utilizing a popular game to help save the business: radio bingo.
The project first caught the eye of Project 10’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning CEO, Andrew Barnsley, back in May 2022, when its namesake short documentary won the award for Best Canadian Short Film at Toronto Film School’s 2022 Film Festival.
“Radio Bingo is exactly the type of story we need more of,” said Barnsley, who also serves as President of Toronto Film School. “The moment I saw Shelby’s film I knew it was something special. I’m just thrilled to be able to help her tell her story and turn this into something bigger.”
The original Radio Bingo is an eight-minute documentary short that details how the Indigenous radio station on the Akwesasne reservation Adams calls home has begun incorporating Mohawk into its weekly games of Radio Bingo to help revitalize the once-stolen language.
The film, which was executive produced by Toronto Film School’s Film Production Program Director and Video Production Program Coordinator Steven Hoffner, marked its world premiere at the Academy Award-recognized Atlanta Film Festival back in April.
“One of the goals of this program is to give a platform to artists of all backgrounds and generations – so to hear from such an original voice like Shelby’s was so important. It validates why I joined Toronto Film School – to find, nurture and work with artists like Shelby,” said Hoffner, who has also signed on to executive produce the Radio Bingo scripted series.
“Shelby is definitely one to watch and it’s a privilege to help her elevate this story.”
For Adams, who always envisaged Radio Bingo as a potential television series, receiving the support and validation for the project that she has from Barnsley – whose slate of hit shows include CBC’s Schitt’s Creek and Son of a Critch, CTV’s Jann, and Amazon Prime’s The Kids in the Hall – was a dream come true.
Her hope is that having the backing of Project 10 behind Radio Bingo will increase the likelihood of getting the story of her community out to an even larger audience.
“Telling these kinds of stories is important. I’m an Indigenous filmmaker, so for me, perspective matters, authenticity matters, and lived experience matters,” she said.
“I want people to watch Radio Bingo and see my community and think, ‘Wow, that is a pretty amazing community.’ Yes, bad things happen in my community, but a lot of really good things happen there, as well – and I really want people to see that.”