bpm:tv hits the beach with Grand Benders

Producer Peter Gentile talks to Playback about making the new party town docu-soap, which premieres Tuesday on bpm:tv.

Canadian TV viewers have taken to Jersey Shore.

Now will they embrace Grand Benders?

That’s the name of a new five-part original docu-soap from MDF Productions with the tagline “Life’s a beach when you live at the Bend.”

Grand Benders, to air on digital channel bpm:tv on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., is set on Ontario’s Lambton Shores, in the beach town of Grand Bend, Ontario, where local beachgoers flock each summer to suntan and hookup.

“[We captured] all kinds of crazy things in terms of footage we shot, [with a plan of] retelling the story in different ways, with little vignettes, bios, funny things that we were able to put together,” Grand Benders producer Peter Gentile tells Playback ab0ut when the cameras rolled on the party town docu-soap.

Grand Benders centres on Cocos, a family-run business which is part dance club, hotel, bar and restaurant.

To gather a Jersey Shore-size audience for Grand Benders, Gentile says he took to Twitter, Facebook and the web to reach his target audience.

And social media, he adds, opens doors to new financing, whether from corporate sponsors or advertising.

The Grand Benders website features a series trailer, blog and extras, like shooter recipes direct from Grand Bend and video featuring Princess Coco, Cocos’ mascot bunny.

“I’ve always thought the marketing and publicity of a show is part of a producer’s job, because a lot of times, broadcasters have different philosophies about things, and they have shows that are on all the time, and they can pick and choose about what to promote. I always thought you have to help out and try to get the word out for your show,” says Gentile.

And for a smaller footprint like indie channel bpm, which is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications, Gentile says he knew he’d have to think of other ways to get the word out.

Gentile is no stranger to creating series for a niche demographic.

Grand Benders follows an earlier series he produced, Clubland, which aired on Global.

Gentile is betting his target demo will experience a deep connection to, and have vivid memories of, beach life when tuning into Grand Benders.

The five-part series received CMF funding, license fees and tax credits, including some regional bonuses.

Gentile is also looking to cultivate corporate sponsors for second season support through events, including a meet the cast party at a London, ON nightclub and another live event during the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend.

He adds its natural that TV producers these days look outside the traditional  TV model in order to get a series funded and made.

“This has opened my eyes to new models of being able to make shows that aren’t necessarily always dependent on the CMF and broadcasters,” says Gentile.

 With files from Etan Vlessing