CMF opens $3M development program for doc, kids producers

The program allows producers to tap up to $75,000 in development funding without a broadcaster attached.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has launched the Slate Development Pilot Program to allow documentary and children and youth producers to tap into funds without a broadcaster.

The Convergent Stream program will allow eligible producers to access up to $75,000 (or 84% of eligible costs) in total development funding across a maximum of three projects for documentary or children and youth programs. Within the budget, $2 million is dedicated to English-language projects and $1 million to French.

In order to qualify, producers must have received development or production funding from CMF in the last five years within documentary or children and youth genres, and they must have “reported at least $75K in gross sales in the past five program years” within the genre they’re applying for.

“While restricted to only two of the CMF’s eligible genres, the CMF hopes this pilot program can be used as a first step in offering more creative funding opportunities in future years to a greater pool of Canadian producers in an increasingly dynamic marketplace,” wrote the CMF in a release.

CMF launched a similar pilot program in November 2020, titled Development Pilot Program – Experienced Producers, which matched non-CMF financing dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, and also did not require a broadcaster. The program, which is no longer listed on the CMF website, was open to drama projects, as well as documentaries and children’s and youth programming.

Blair Powers, partner and executive producer at Sinking Ship Entertainment, tells Playback Daily the development fund is a “game changer” for producers in the kids space. He says producers often need to “provide high-level development materials” in order to get a project greenlit, which are generally self-funded, so a program like this offers much-needed flexibility.

The impact will be similar in the documentary space, according to White Pine Pictures president Peter Raymont, who says broadcasters are limited on the amount of projects they can develop. “The hardest part of making documentaries is development: optioning the rights to a book or paying a writer for a proposal, treatment or a script,” he says. “That’s the most difficult money to raise.”

The programs are part of a continued effort from CMF to give flexible funding options. In 2019, the organization launched the Early-Stage Development Program to allow writers to access development funding.

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