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Understanding Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch Program

Making a film is hard. It’s hard from a creative and operational perspective. It’s hard because it’s expensive. Where does one find the money? There are many potential answers to that but this article focuses on Telefilm’s Talent to Watch Program.

Telefilm Canada is a crown corporation (essentially a government entity) that supports Canadian film projects by contributing money to their budgets. If you are reading this, you probably know how expensive films can be to produce, even on a shoestring budget. Telefilm accepts applications for funding and undertakes a thorough review of the creative and business aspects of each project submitted before deciding whether to invest in it.

Telefilm and the TtW Program

Telefilm’s Talent to Watch (formerly known as the Microbudget Production Program, which should give you an indication of the kinds of projects Telefilm is looking to fund in this particular program) is meant to support up and coming Canadian film talent.

Emerging producers and content creators with certain demonstrated industry experience or achievement (specific standards need to be met for these) can apply to Telefilm for funding under this program. If accepted, Telefilm contributes cash to the project budget up to CDN$125,000 for feature films and narrative-based projects greater than 75 minutes in length. The Telefilm contribution amount is based on the length of the project and is allocable 8% to marketing and distribution expenses, and the balance to the film budget.

Telefilm’s goal is to help newcomers find a helping hand in the challenges producing a first film, and to nurture emerging talent, given them irreplaceable experience and learning opportunities, create a Canadian eco-system of excellence in film and bring Canadian content to other countries, and draw investment from other countries.

The budget level (per the former name of this fund: Microbudget) is small for an average film, but a successful project can leverage a producer into larger projects. Aside from the obvious benefit to producers of providing project finance, a successful application is a great industry calling-card and will likely help a project be selected for certain festivals (which can then be parlayed into other opportunities).

Under the umbrella of the Talent to Watch Program, there are 3 application streams:

  • Selective Stream

The Selective Stream is divided into 3 components: The Main Component, The Indigenous Component, and the Official-Language Minority Communities (OLMC) Component. In each component, various educational entities and film-related societies vouch for which projects they think should be included in the various components. 

  • Festival Selection Stream

This stream is open to producers who have previously had a short film accepted to a (Telefilm-approved) film festival and is intended to help producers who have achieved this success keep their career momentum.

  • Fast Track Stream

The Fast Track Stream is similar to the Festival Selection Stream, except that funding becomes automatic for applicants to this stream, but is only open to those whose films were selected for an award at the applicable (recognized) film festival. Fast track applicants are entitled to bypass the recommendation process implemented in the Main Stream and Festival Stream.


The Talent to Watch program requires that the key members of a project (writer, director, producer) has been involved with at least one short film. They must either have directed it, written its script, or served as its producer. For this application, they cannot have served in the same role they were in for a previous feature-length movie. Additionally, the key members must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

There are additional requirements for the Indigenous Component and OLMC Component.

For the Fast Track Stream and Festival Stream, the additional requirements are that the applicant operates as a film production company; own 100% of the rights of the project; be under Canadian control as determined under sections 26 to 28 of the Investment Canada Act; be entirely owned and controlled by the key members; and that the Canadian creative personnel must obtain a minimum of 8 out of 10 points as calculated under the Income Tax Act Regulations. Festival Stream applicants must evidence the acceptance of a previous project to a recognized film festival, and the Fast Track applicants must evidence an award or prize from a recognized festival.

There is a fair amount of nuance in the application, the materials that must be submitted, the relationships with various partners to the program that could impact the completeness of an application, and the steps following a successful application.

Platform Law has deep domain experience in film and entertainment law matters and would welcome the opportunity to grow with emerging creatives who are applying for this program or otherwise.

This blog post is not intended as, and is not, legal advice or opinion. 

By |2019-09-24T02:17:33+00:00September 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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