TFO commissions cross-platform project about Samuel de Champlain

Producers plan a miniseries and digital extensions, including an iPad app about the French explorer on the 400th anniversary of his trans-Atlantic mapping expeditions.

Pubcaster TFO has tapped Fair-Play Productions, Slalom Productions and 90th Parallel Productions to produce a cross-platform project about the French explorer Samuel de Champlain.

The project, based on author David Hackett Fischer’s book Champlain’s Dream, will include a six half-hour TV docu-drama that tells parallel stories as it juxtaposes fiction and reality.

The first story focuses on Champlain as an historical figure on the 400th anniversary of his trans-Atlantic mapping expeditions.

And the second follows Hackett Fischer as a modern-day researcher uncovering the life of an explorer establishing a French presence in the New World.

“It’s a docu-fiction. We will see the real David (Hackett Fischer) talking to us as the documentary takes the audience through Europe, Ontario or the U.S. to look for what he was looking for, to find Champlain,” said Marie Pierre Gariepy, a producer with Ottawa-based Slalom Productions.

Then there’s the digital extension of the miniseries, to include In The Tablet of Champlain, an iPad app that features a collection of drawings, maps and diaries -essentially the tablet Champlain would have if he were alive and exploring today.

The digital app is aimed at children aged 2-6 and 6-9, and includes games, stories and short videos.

The producers are also developing an online game where users can be a member of a First Nation or a European settler joining forces to build out New France.

Gariepy said the digital extensions will be used in schools to teach history, so students will go beyond watching the miniseries to immerse themselves in apps and games and a website.

The producers are still completing financing for the cross-platform project, expected to have a budget of between $2 million and $4 million.