True Calling Media launches $150K grants program

In its first funding round, the Vancouver company, which specializes in short docs, has awarded 30 filmmakers from across Canada $2,500 each.
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Vancouver-based media co True Calling is unveiling the first round of winners from its $150,000 emerging-filmmaker grants program.

The media company, which produces inspirational short documentaries, has selected 30 finalists from across Canada and given them $2,500-grants to produce short films on human ambition. All 30 films will be released throughout the summer on True Calling’s social media platforms, with shares, likes and comments counting toward the Viewers’ Choice competition.

In addition, an international jury of filmmakers and film festival professionals have selected their top 10 finalists. The jury’s top film and the people’s choice winner, announced in August, will become True Calling episodes and distributed online. True Calling episodes are distributed through a variety of partners, including Discovery Education, Daily Motion, and Amazon Prime, reaching more than 44 million viewers worldwide, according to the company.

The first grant winners released on True Calling’s Facebook page last week are Pigeon Racing (pictured), from filmmaker Blake Gordey; Brina Romanek’s What’s so Cheesy About Love: Changing the World One Sandwich at a Time; and the jury’s top-10 pick, Pamela Tomlinson’s Nuge Bird: Human Instrument. True Calling will continue to release three videos a week throughout the summer, before announcing the winners.

“We were trying to find the best stories, the most impactful stories across Canada and we knew that we could only tell so many. We wanted people to be able to go tell the stories in their backyard of people who love what they do and who inspire others,” Fraser McKeen, national partnerships lead at True Calling told Playback Daily. “We also thought this would be a great chance for us to increase our reach and our presence and engage the filmmaking community.”

Round two of the grants program will open for submissions in August.

Founded in 2006 by Pink Buffalo Films’ founder Martin Fisher, True Calling has recently expanded its operations, opening a new office in Toronto. In addition to its deals with web publishers and digital platforms, True Calling also produces branded documentaries for companies and sponsored episodes.

“In an effort to tell more Canadian stories, we wanted to be across the country and Toronto is a natural progression for us. Also, for our branded content series, it’s where all the advertisers and the big brands are headquartered. So it made sense for us to have a sales presence there,” said Keegan McColl, head of growth.

True Calling has hired Tyler Cameron, former director of sales for theScore, as head of national partnerships at its Toronto office.