Distribution rights for CBC’s Trickster move to Abacus Media

TRICKSTER
The international rights to the six-part series were previously held by Kew Media Distribution prior to the collapse of its parent company.

Former Kew Media Distribution (KMD) sales executive Jonathan Ford is launching an international distribution company in partnership with London, U.K.-based Amcomri Media Group. And with it, the new company has acquired the international distribution rights to one of the most buzzed-about Canadian series of the year – CBC’s Trickster (pictured), produced by Streel Films and Sienna Films.

Ford, who previously served as EVP of sales at London- and L.A.-based KMD, will take on the role of managing director at the London-based Abacus Media Rights (AMR).

The rights to the six-part series were previously held by KMD prior to the collapse of its parent company, Kew Media Group, earlier this year. CBC has not confirmed when the North Bay-shot drama will premiere, but it is expected to launch before year’s end.

The series, based on Eden Robinson’s bestselling book trilogy, Son of a Trickster, was adapted for TV by co-creators Michelle Latimer (RISENuuca) and screenwriter Tony Elliott (Orphan Black12 Monkeys). Latimer directed all six episodes, with Latimer and Elliott sharing showrunner responsibilities. Trickster is a darkly humorous coming-of-age story starring Joel Oulette as an Indigenous teenager struggling to keep his dysfunctional family above water.

As part of Ford’s first order of business, he has recruited a number of former colleagues at Kew Media Distribution to staff the operation, with Anton Romalijski joining as director of sales, Lesley Whittock boarding as director of marketing and acquisitions and Claire Hoskin joining as director of business affairs.

Amcomri, whose entertainment investments include the likes of indie label 101 Films, has provided AMR with a substantial funding line to support the business’ initial rights acquisitions. The distribution unit will initially focus its sights on distributing documentary features and series, non-scripted and drama series for the global marketplace. AMR will also look to work with producers to get programming pre-sold and set up with financing to successfully receive commissions.

AMR has already acquired the rights to a roster of unscripted programming, which includes Dan Reed’s antibiotics film Superbug for HBO and BBC, in association with Wellcome Trust and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and Reed’s feature doc Liberty City for Channel 4; Essential Media’s series Rhys Darby in Japan and This Could Go Anywhere; as well as documentary features People You May Know from Katharina Viken and Dr. Charles Kriel’s fledgling Metrotone Media; Nike’s Big Bet from producer Corey Russell and Paul Kemp Productions; and Brendan J. Byrne’s feature-length documentary My Name is Bulger from Fine Point Films.

Amcomri chairman Paul McGowan will sit on the board of AMR together with Ford; Larry Howard, director of Amcomri; and Andy Lyon, MD of 101 Films.

“Having fostered close producer and sales partnerships over decades, Jonathan is absolutely the right person to penetrate the international TV market with Abacus Media Rights,” said McGowan in a statement. “I am confident the company is already strongly positioned to acquire and deliver high-quality, multi-genre slates of programming, which will be made available to audiences worldwide.”

“This is a competitive industry and I wanted to set up a company which is streamlined and innovative, an open and fully transparent organization,” added Ford. “With a respected, experienced team working alongside me, and with the backing of Amcomri, we are looking forward to working with great production companies, building strong partnerships and launching into the content market with some essential viewing. Our focus will not just be distribution but also working with production partners to get titles pre-sold and set up with financing.”

A version of this story originally appeared in Realscreen