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Deciphering Development Funding


The Canada Media Fund has multiple development-focused programs and we've been fielding some questions from members about the difference between them and which ones they might be eligible for. The CMF administers and interprets its own programs and guidelines, and it is the best source of information for prospective applicants. But we've attempted to sort the programs out for you according to their focus and have included descriptions and relevant CMF links for more information.  

Screenwriters should apply, either directly as a writer or producer, or in partnership with a third-party producer/production company, to whichever program they feel best meets their needs. Some members or members’ project(s) may be eligible for more than one program, in which case they may choose which one to apply to, or to apply to multiple programs if the CMF permits it.

The Early-Stage Development Program is the sole writer-focused development program for the CMF. Launched for the first time last year, this program provides up to $40,000 in development funding directly to writers for projects at the beginning of their creative process.There is no requirement for a production partner, broadcaster financial commitment, or letter of interest from a Canadian broadcaster. Applications will be judged by an independent jury this year, and the application deadline is October 15, 2020. We also outlined the changes to the 2020/21 program HERE. The full application package/criteria have not yet been posted. 

All of the following programs are applied to by the project's producer. Writers involved in the development of these projects must be contracted by the producer according to terms laid out in the IPA, including WGC members who are contracting their own services—or those of fellow members—as producers. 

Predevelopment Program: This program also provides development funding for projects at the beginning of their creative process. Unlike the Early-Stage Development Program, however, it is not targeted directly to writers—applicants must be production companies that have a writing agreement with a writer and a letter of interest from a Canadian broadcaster or participating Canadian provincial funding agency. But anybody who can meet these requirements can apply, including WGC members. The Predevelopment Program is a first-come, first-served program that opens for applications on June 18, 2020.

Development Program: This program provides development funding for projects at any stage of their development process. Funding is generally disbursed through “development envelopes,” which are apportionments of funds made to Canadian broadcasters, that in turn choose which development projects they wish to allot a portion of their envelope to, subject to CMF eligibility criteria. Like the Predevelopment Program, it is not targeted directly to writers—applicants must be production companies, and projects must have a commitment for a minimum “Development Fee” by a Canadian broadcaster or broadcasters with access to a CMF Broadcaster Development Envelope allocation. Anybody who can meet these requirements can apply,  including WGC members. This program opened for applications on April 20, 2020, and under the envelope system there are two closing dates: October 29, 2020, and December 04, 2020.

Export Program: This program is intended to help support pitch, sales and promotional activities for television projects intended for international markets during the development stage. The program focuses on acquiring pre-sale financing from foreign broadcasters, online streaming services, distributors and sales agents during the development period of a television project’s life cycle. Projects requesting funding must have secured an eligible Development Fee from a Canadian broadcaster with a Development Envelope allocation. Like the Predevelopment Program and the Development Program, this program is not targeted directly to writers—applicants must be production companies. Anybody who can meet these requirements can apply, including WGC members. In the English market, only live-action projects are eligible—no animation. This is a first-come, first-served program that opens September 3, 2020.

These are also producer-focused programs, with the key difference being their emphasis on the applicant group and/or territory. 

Indigenous Program: This program is intended to support the growth of Indigenous production and recognize the unique circumstances of the Indigenous production community. Among other requirements, at least 51% of the ownership of the applicant company and copyright in the project must be owned by an individual producer (or multiple producers) that is an Indigenous person that meets the definition of Aboriginal peoples under the Employment Equity Act. 

Northern Incentive: For this incentive, while eligible projects must include a Development Fee of at least 15% of the project’s eligible costs, for projects with Development Fees solely from any CMF-approved community channel operating in Nunavut, Nunavik, the Yukon Territory or the Northwest Territories, there is no minimum Development Fee amount.

International co-development incentives: The CMF has partnered with multiple international funding organizations to develop matching funds to invest in the creation of innovative projects that have at least one Canadian and one international producer. Details of each partnership are available on the CMF website. New international partnerships are announced throughout the year.

Creative BC/CMF Regional Predevelopment Program: This was a pilot program between the CMF and Creative BC designed to provide British Columbia-owned and controlled companies with flexible predevelopment funding, and provide resources to better enable British Columbia producers to compete globally. Its deadline was March 11, 2020, and as such has already closed for this year. Like any pilot program, however, there is a chance it may be renewed next year.

Further details of all these programs are available on the CMF’s website. We encourage you to read the guidelines of the program(s) that are of interest to you in detail, and direct any questions you may have to the applicable Telefilm funding application office, which administers funding applications on the CMF’s behalf.

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