Force Four’s John Ritchie on growing Seed

Playback catches up with the exec producer at Strategic Partners in Halifax, as the sperm donor comedy (pictured) goes into production on its second season.
Seed-1

Force Four Entertainment’s Seed begins its second season shoot today, following the announcement last week that the homegrown series, which airs on Rogers’ City, had been picked up by the CW in the U.S.

Seed, created by Joseph Raso, is the first comedy from Force Four, which has thus far produced successful unscripted fare like Border Security and The Bachelor Canada. Force Four partner and exec producer John Ritchie told Playback during the Strategic Partners conference in Halifax that Force Four developed and pitched Seed to Canadian networks for five years before it was greenlit by Rogers Media for City.

The initial expectation wasn’t that it would sell to a U.S. network; the goal was to simply make a good Canadian comedy. But the CW is a good fit for the sperm donor comedy, said Ritchie, with its younger-skewing demographic.

With the deal has come opportunity, Ritchie adds, including getting meetings with U.S. nets, two new comedies in development with Canadian networks, and Canadian writers pitching them new scripts.

And while he said Force Four still favours pitching Canadian networks, the entrance into the U.S. market with Seed means they’ll increasingly look at different financing models for TV projects going forward.

The Seed CW news comes alongside a recent resurgence in Canadian TV comedy, a trend Ritchie attributes to producers and broadcasters putting more trust into comedic talent. In the specific case of Seed, it helps to have comedy veteran Mark Farrell (Corner Gas, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Dan for Mayor) on board as showrunner.

“I think what’s changing for the better is that the really funny people are…being trusted with that creative vision,” he adds.

Seed is also reflective of another trend: increasing use of coproduction financing. It’s a model Force Four is increasingly considering, he said.

The Vancouver-based company has already added Halifax-based Waterstar Entertainment, headed up by producer Karen Wentzell (Trailer Park Boys), as a producer on the second season of Seed, making the project an interprovincial coproduction.

With Wentzell already producing on the series, the addition of Waterstar to the series lets the producers keep the production in Halifax and access around $1 million in additional Nova Scotia tax incentives.