Alberta, Manitoba producers to tap development fund from Rogers Media

The Rogers Development Fund will back film, TV and digital formats from established and emerging producers, via a revolving loan fund.

Whether broadcasters are these days betting on star-driven international co-productions or trend-setting ideas from up-and-comers, the next big Canadian film, TV or digital project may get off the ground thanks to the Rogers Development Fund.

The new revolving loan fund from Rogers Media was unveiled Thursday and aims to provide seed money to established and emerging indie producers in Alberta and Manitoba for innovative content ideas.

“I’m a big believer that you have to walk before you run. So development is a good thing, regardless of what you are working on,” Claire Freeland, director of original programming, broadcast at Rogers Media, told Playback.

The two-stream Rogers Development Fund, which will give a loan of up to $25,000 to established producers, and a loan of up to $5,000 to emerging content creators, stems from a CRTC-directed benefits package pledged by Rogers Media.

To get the biggest bang for its buck, Freeland said the broadcaster talked to the Alberta producers’ association to devise a development fund to support different formats.

“It seems to make the most sense, as the first step, to create a development fund, not only to engage companies that produced in the past, but also emerging creators,” she explained.

Producers can qualify for a non-interest bearing development loan — secured by three projects in current development for established players and one project for emerging producers — even if the slate is parked with a broadcaster other than Rogers Media.

And Rogers will have no control over a project once it moves beyond development.

At the same time, Citytv gets a first-look at projects unaffiliated with another broadcaster.

“It’s about development first. And if we see a project that’s exciting for us, we will make a bid,” Freeland said.

A committee will select which producers receive a development loan, based on a project proposal, budget and financing plan.

The launch of the Rogers Development Fund follows the broadcaster looking countrywide to hatch and produce new TV shows, including the upcoming Citytv sitcoms Seed, shot in Halifax by Vancouver-based Force Four Entertainment, and Package Deal, shot in Vancouver by local producer Thunderbird Films.