MIPCOM12: Canada spotlight pushes copro opportunities

Cannes is this week ground zero for international producers looking to do more co-productions with Canadian partners, especially as MIPCOM has rolled out the red carpet out for Canada as a country of honour.

Morgan O’Sullivan, director of Dublin-based World 2000 Entertainment, said collaborating with Canada on high quality and marketable global co-productions opens the door to global collaboration.

An example is the Vikings, which the Irish producer is co-producing with John Weber’s Take 5 Productions and Ireland’s Octagon Films.

“Joining forces (with Canadians) allows us to pitch directly to U.S. networks and we have been successful in opening a vein in that arena,” O’Sullivan said after the U.S. History channel acquired Vikings and earlier Showtime collaborated on The Tudors and The Borgias.

On the other side of the deal, Canadians are finding an increasing role as an intermediary between U.S. and UK producers.

“Everyone knows about Canada, and what the benefits are. This gives us a profile,” Weber said of the country focus on Canada and its many achievements in the co-production realm in recent years.

Away from the varied panels and keynote speeches associated with the Canada spotlight, major producers like Lionsgate, Cineflix Media and Entertainment One were busily using their contacts in London and Los Angeles to sell existing Canadian co-productions and hammer out new ones.

'Deal with it' is the tag line for the Canada focus at the market.

“Our idea with our distribution arm is we can facilitate co-productions in Canada and internationally, in both scripted and factual, and use our distribution arm to help fund the deficits,” Glen Saltzman, CEO of Cineflix Media, told Playback, as he referred to his company’s London-based distribution arm, Cineflex Rights.

The Canada Country of Honour tribute in Cannes this week, co-sponsored by Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund, aims to put the Canadian industry on a new track, one more accommodating to foreign financing and partnerships, just as European producers especially look to do more co-productions with North America.

Carole Brabant, executive director of Telefilm Canada, introduced a Canadian co-production case study on the Vikings and Rouge Bresil projects by arguing Canada is punching well above its weight when it comes to global projects.

“We are a big country and we like to do things in a big way:  promoting our big talent with big speakers and big ideas, and the big time partnering opportunities with Canada,” the Telefilm Canada head said, in reference to the tag-line for the country spotlight, “It’s a big country. Time to deal with it.”

Brabant and Creighton

For co-sponsor Valerie Creighton of the Canada Media Fund, the MIPCOM focus is all about celebrating Canada’s achievements overseas in recent years, and touting benefits to potential co-production partners.

“We’re an extraordinary country, from our tax credits to our funding, to our BDUs and our digital media. We are rich with resources,” the CMF topper said.

Part of Canada’s march on the Croissette this week is showcasing Canadian TV talent especially flown in to appeal to foreign buyers and broadcasters.

Peter Raymont, executive producer at White Pine Pictures, the producer of the CBC police procedural Cracked, said international distributor Beta Films welcomed having series talent in Cannes to back their pitch to foreign buyers.

That included a Cracked brunch to be held by Beta Films on the Croissette on Tuesday morning local time.

“The broadcasters get a sense of how good Stefanie (von Pfetten) and David (Sutcliffe) can be at selling the show to their viewers,” Raymont said as Beta targets European broadcasters.

Other Canadian talent in Cannes this week includes Saving Hope cast members Erica Durance and Michael Shanks, Sara Canning and Niall Matter (along with Brit Danny Rahim) of Primeval: New World, a spin-off of the original Primeval series, by Omni Film Productions, based in Vancouver.

Etan Vlessing and Dani Ng-See Quan contributed to this story from Cannes.