MIPCOM12: How Canuck prodcos are now world-contending players

However Quebecor president Pierre Karl Peladeau emphasized in a keynote the domestic funding system needs updating to make Canadian TV prodcos more export-driven.
Pierre Karl Peladeau

The Canadian focus at MIPCOM this week has been a bit of a head scratcher for some indie producers and distributors.

What, they ask, is new in Canadians descending on the Croissette in big numbers to sell their finished product or start possible co-ventures or co-productions?

What’s new, said Vince Commisso, co-founder and CEO of Toronto animation producer 9 Story Entertainment, is the sheer quality of the product that Canadians today pitch or shop at the annual Cannes TV market. “What’s new is the standards we all have to hit,” Commisso told Playback.

During the 1990s, in the heyday of service production in Canada, indie producers could produce mediocre shows for a fee and got away with it.

“Now you can’t do that,” Commisso argued, before adding indie producers also have more skin in the game these days as they structure co-ventures and co-productions, bring on board a Canadian broadcaster and tax credits, and acquire international distribution rights as the cherry on top.

Chris Bonney, CEO Cineflix Rights, agreed that quality was key to appealling to the international market when it comes to racking up sales of Canadian series.

To that end, Bonney explained, Cineflix maintains a centralized development team, with operations in the U.K., Canada and the U.S. to make global product.

“Everyone creates for those specific territories, but there’s a really strong international understanding between all of the development creatives,” he said.

The result is projects that are grounded in specific local markets like the U.K. and the U.S., and yet which have international appeal.

Elsewhere this week, Quebecor president Pierre Karl Peladeau used a keynote address here to urge the CRTC to change the domestic funding system in Canada to accommodate more export-driven TV production.

“We need to position our industry on the global scene or else face extinction,” Peladeau said.

“Canada is… a renter rather than a landlord,” he added, pointing to how Canadian broadcasters acquire local versions of international formats, rather than encouraging local producers to develop original formats for the world market.

“I wish it was that, instead of buying international concepts, Quebec and Canada were the ones doing the selling,” Peladeau argued.

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