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A Primer on Applying to the CMF ESDP


The deadline to submit applications for the 2021-22 Canada Media Fund Early-Stage Development Program is Oct. 14. Telefilm’s submission platform Dialogue is now open for this program (which it is administering). Applicants should begin building their submission on the platform now in order to provide an accurate and complete application by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. EST on Oct. 14. 

Now in its third year, the ESDP is a program exclusively for screenwriters that allocates funding to eligible projects at the beginning of their creative process. The CMF has allotted $1.5 million for English-language projects and $500,000 for French ones. The program is very similar in structure to last year’s ESDP, with a 10-hour written-by requirement, in which 2 of those hours were originally broadcast from Jan. 1, 2017 to the present, and a five written-by credit (of any length) requirement for Diverse Community applicants. Successful projects will be chosen by a jury. The CMF may contribute financially to an eligible project at the level requested by the applicant up to a maximum of $40,000.

The WGC just hosted a webinar with Telefilm Deputy Directors Jill Samson and Shaun Bryan and Director Jeremy Spry, in which they walked attendees through the ESDP guidelines and Dialogue application process. (See link below.)

Writers that received funding from the Early-Stage Development Program in 2020-2021, or writers that received funding from the Early-Stage Development Program in 2019-2020 and have not submitted all of the required materials and documentation necessary to fulfill their project’s final cost milestone noted in their funding agreement with the CMF, are not eligible to apply this year.

So how do I get this application started?

  1. Go to the CMF website and download the program guidelines, which give the full scope of the Early-Stage Development Program. You should also download and review the accompanying reference documents under the "Guidelines & References" heading. READ EVERYTHING THOROUGHLY.
  2. Listen to the WGC Telefilm info session. It’s HERE.
  3. Read the accompanying presentation from Telefilm, which includes an FAQ, HERE.
  4. Set up your Telefilm Dialogue account: (see 2.)
  5. Once you’ve started building your application, you can send any questions you have to the program coordinator at or 1-800-567-0890.
  6. Complete all required forms and have them ready to submit on or before Oct. 14, 2021. Dialogue will be accepting applications until 11:59 p.m. EST on Oct. 14. Dialogue is now open for building your application. 

Good luck everyone!

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