Financing the development of a new television property is not easy. We’ve all been there.
This blog summarizes some funding options to consider, apart from friends and family, as you progress from not having any broadcaster interest or support, to getting a broadcaster’s letter of interest, to receiving development funding from a broadcaster.
Projects without Broadcaster Interest or Funds…
Before your project has even been pitched to a broadcaster (or perhaps it was pitched and they asked you to keep them updated… but offered to validate your parking), The COGECO Program Development Fund accepts requests for pre-development funding, including for dramatic series (one-hour dramas) and mini-series.
Requirements include that the project must be intended for prime-time (unless it’s a kid’s show), it must use Canadian scriptwriters, be intended to qualify as Canadian by CRTC’s definition and only one project may be submitted each year by a production company/producer.
This fund may provide up to a $10,000 recoupable advance for your third party costs including screenwriters, consultants, script editors, researchers, marketing specialists, sales and promotional materials. Ineligible costs include corporate overhead, payments to employees and producer fees.
Projects with Broadcaster Interest but without Broadcaster Funds
With a letter of interest from a Canadian broadcaster in hand, the Canada Media Fund offers pre-development funding to eligible applicants for English regional (including Ottawa… and anywhere more than 150KM from Toronto) and Quebec French regional projects until their resources are depleted.
Limitations for English projects include that the funding must be for purposes such as writing a preliminary synopsis and/or treatment, and that applicants may apply for 3 projects max per fiscal year. For English projects, the CMF may contribute an advance of up to 75% of eligible costs or $15,000 per eligible project, whichever is less. On June 10, 2014, this English Regional Predevelopment sub-program will be open for submissions.
Projects with Broadcaster Interest and Funds!
Starting with the CMF, for eligible projects with sufficient broadcaster financial support (in Ottawa being 25% of the eligible development costs minus third party financing), the CMF contributes advances for projects through development envelopes, which are allocations of CMF program funds made to Canadian broadcasters. Broadcasters choose which projects they wish to allot a portion of their development envelope to, subject to limitations.
The CMF may contribute up to a percentage of your budget, subject to CMF’s assessment and other limitations and rules. The maximum contribution for an English regional development project is 75% of eligible development costs, up to a maximum of $200,000 for all phases combined and all eligible types of programming.
Another key requirement is that these projects must be convergent, for example having a TV component made available by a CRTC-licensed traditional broadcaster and having an eligible digital media component. There are rules related to the project being Canadian content, that the project be shot and set primarily in Canada, and have a qualifying genre (drama is allowed; reality shows are not). Also, be sure to consult CMF’s Producer’s Fees & Corporate Overhead Policy.
The COGECO Fund’s development loan program allocates an average of $5,000 to $10,000 for each stage of development, for a maximum of 2 development stages per project. Those stages include the treatment stage (for the first episodes, Bible and/or outlines), the first draft script stage (for the first 3 episodes) and final script stage (also for the first 3 episodes). COGECO’s financial commitment may not exceed the broadcaster’s fees. Specific costs may include scriptwriter fees, script-editors, research, travel, and normal overheads. Producers may apply with multiple projects concurrently with different writers. Also, producers must have a minimum of 2 years production experience and previously produced at least one broadcast Canadian TV drama as an independent producer.
For both COGECO programs, the next deadline is October 1, 2014, and the recoupable advance must be repaid on the first day of the project’s principal photography. COGECO is seeking projects that demonstrate feasibility, likelihood of proceeding to production, an understanding of the broadcaster landscape, and serving a market need.
The CMF advances must be repaid based on the first day of official preparation for principal photography or upon other use of the script, or the transfer, sale, assignment, or other disposition of the script. As for which projects receive funding, if a project meets the requirements of CMF’s guidelines, the project will most probably receive funding.
While this blog only provides just a summary of TV development funding options from COGECO and CMF, for all of the rules, please consult the programs directly, and/or speak to a lawyer about the specifics of your project.
Potential CMF applicants are welcome to send their projects to CMF for a pre-application to make sure that the project meets CMF’s guidelines.
Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca
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* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.