Producers need to be flexible to succeed: Temple Street topper

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The year 2012 has started off strongly for Temple Street Productions. Just this month alone the prodco has seen Space greenlight its sci-fi drama Orphan Black and has begun work on the live-to-air CBC TV production of Over the Rainbow. As well, it will soon start cameras to rolling on The Next Step, a tween dance drama for Family Channel.

Meanwhile earlier in the year it opened an Los Angeles office, to increase its share of the U.S. factual and scripted-entertainment market.

“It’s a busy time for us,” said John Young, the Toronto-based company’s managing directors.

While giving obvious credit to his own company’s hard working and talented people, Young nevertheless said he thinks the Canadian production industry on the whole has been picking up over the last few months.

“We are seeing the advertising revenue start to come back into the industry,” he said.

When asked to take a step back and provide an arms-length perspective on the state of the industry, Young said he believed the industry bounce back is however taking on a slightly new  form.

“We are seeing more in the way of branded content; we ourselves are involved in that and that side of the business we have people actively working on new projects, specifically with brands, similar in a way that we did with Recipe to Riches with Shaw Media and Loblaws,” he said.

Canadian broadcasters are looking for new and audience-grabbing program ideas, but are under greater pressure than ever to get the most out of their production envelopes. In short, traditional sources of money are tight.

“The financing of the larger-budget television shows is something that we all have to focus on, producer and broadcaster alike,” he said.

What is required is greater collaboration “decisions to get the show funded as necessary.”

He continues,  “That is where branded content is going to be an interesting piece of the puzzle as well, looking to see how brands can help work with broadcasters and producers to create great content.”

Indeed, a key programming theme during last week’s Banff World Media Festival, where Playback spoke to Young, was innovative program funding. He went on to observe “consumers don’t really have time for 30-second ads anymore— but they do have 30 minutes for a good story. That is going to be key to any piece of branded content, certainly the ones we’re trying to work on at Temple Street.”

Branded content however “is not a panacea for filling financing gaps—it’s not as simple as that—you have to build the content and naturally, organically, find a room for the brand in the show.”

More than ever, TV program makers “need to be flexible; as producers we have to try to get some of the control over our own destiny—that is always tough when others have the green light capability.”

Yet these are unmistakably promising times for the industry, and Young is upbeat.

“I think with all the fragmentation and channels and different places to go to perhaps put your content—and have other people buy your content—that opens up a number of interesting avenues,” he said.

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