Industry innovator Andra Sheffer to retire from IPF

After 28 years at the helm of the Independent Production Fund, Sheffer will hand over the reins to Jon Taylor at the end of the year.

Andra ShefferAfter 28 years with the Independent Production Fund (IPF), founding CEO Andra Sheffer on Wednesday revealed she will retire from the organization at the end of the year.

With Sheffer’s departure, Jon Taylor, who has served as IPF chair for the past two years, will step into the CEO role. Meanwhile, IPF’s Montreal office will continue to be led by associate director Claire Dion.

“The industry is moving along rapidly and it’s an interesting time for someone else to step in and take over the next stage of what’s going on here,” Sheffer told Playback Daily.

Sheffer has spent more than 40 years in the Canadian industry, including a decade at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (1979-1989), where she was the founding executive director. In addition to the IPF, she has administered a number of other funds including the Bell Fund (1997-2014), Cogeco Fund (1992-2017), Canwest Fund, CFCN Fund and the Videon Fund.

For his part, Taylor is a digital media strategist whose former titles include VP of digital products and strategy at Bell Media, where he was part of the team that launched Crave, and executive director of U.S.-based Global Online Video Association.

Under Sheffer’s tenure, the IPF has invested $75 million in 140 web series, 275 TV dramas and around 450 professional development activities and programs. Sheffer also spearheaded the groundbreaking shift into short-form digital content, which has become the IPF’s main focus since 2010.

Jon Taylor 2“It was a huge step forward when we started started doing web series because that was an unknown entity, completely. It took a lot of convincing for the board and for the community to realize that there may be some kind of a future in this,” she said. On the funding side, Sheffer has also overseen the growth of the IPF’s endowment from $29 million to $36 million since its inception.

Alongside the personnel changes, the IPF also unveiled a new funding program geared toward development packaging for scripted short-form series.

Under the previous funding-application model, teams whose projects had been shortlisted had one month to prepare complete application packages, without financial assistance. Under the new program, teams will receive $30,000 and have between four and five months to prepare fully developed and packaged projects. From there, the IPF will decide which projects will receive production financing.

As for what comes next for Sheffer, she says she hasn’t made any decisions. Once she concludes her tenure with the IPF, she said she plans to do some traveling and then see where the chips fall in the new year.

“I’d hate to totally walk away from the industry and not keep in touch with the people and the wonderful things going on. At the same time, I’m also intrigued by looking at something quite different and just going off into another direction possibly,” she said.