For a great nuanced rebuttal to this post, please read Jill Golick’s post Canada: Transmedia Heaven?
I decided to write this post about Canadian Funding for transmedia professionals because, as Ian Ginn pointed out to me, I am being equally unfair by glibly ranting there is no money in Canada as those who glibly comment that the streets of Canada are paved with transmedia gold.
Yes, there is money in Canada for transmedia, for new media, for filmmakers, for artists etc. It is a country rich in opportunity for those who understand how the system works and have the business and street smarts to navigate the layers of bureaucracies well. Those industry professionals who understand the system and who have a sophisticated understanding of transmedia production or ancillary industries will best be poised to potentially have access to those funds. Especially so, if that professional promises to create jobs in Canada. Frankly, American film and TV production companies do really well working with the maquila film communities Canada has established. If you have a money-making production company, you may want to skip to the end for links to the resources you want (or better yet, pay someone on your team to do it for you). But please read the rest of what I have to say.
The problem that I have with industry professionals spreading rumours that Canada is the place where funds are for transmedia productions is that it is a gross oversimplification. I am constantly having transmedia creatives telling me they want to move to Canada to have access to our funding system. Many of these creatives are the same people who do not even have an understanding of how even the funding system operates in their own countries. Even after my rant during the conference, I still had America creatives come to me saying that during the speed mentoring they were told: go to Canada. Many creatives who are frankly not in a position to spend the time and energy learning how to navigate these fund agencies without putting their own local creative productivity at risk.
These kinds of rumours that lack nuance are akin to expressions of “I hear there is tons of money to fund your film from Kickstarter and Indiegogo. That is where the money is at.”
Worse. It’s akin to such rumours as: "I hear transmedia is where the money’s at."
Yes. There are funds in Kickstarter but I’m sure all would agree: It’s not that easy. You need to understand how it works and how much effort a campaign takes. And how much street cred you need for fans to be ready to jump to the plate.
The funding system in Canada is vastly more complex than throwing a Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign. And I’m not really recommending one over the other. What I am saying is: it takes a lot of time and resources to understand how to access those funds proficiently. And even when you do there is still no guarantee you will get access to those funds. That is the simple reality. And the simple reality is many of the Canadian citizens who live in Canada in media production still have to fall back on their day jobs.
So if you are a transmedia creative who really understands the complexity of the funding and business and has the time, energy and resources to navigate all the layers of bureaucracies, by all means study the system. Partner with savvy Canadian production companies and bodies and make grand wonderful things. But please don’t send the wrong message to creatives who are naive, just starting out, those who haven’t really established themselves and their craft from where they already are to make bold moves to a foreign country to try to get access to funds that most Canadian media professionals themselves can’t make a go at, knowing also that the majority of the most financially successful media producers from Canada are the ones who have emigrated to Hollywood, New York, the U.K. and elsewhere.
I teased people at the conference I would charge $9.99 for a guide to Canada’s funding system but here I what I have on hand *free of charge*. I know there is a lot more stuff out there but here is just a start of links I have on hand on the top of my head to get you started. And remember: the rules are constantly changing.
There are many different options for funding. First, funds operate on a local level, regional level and national level. Then there are the options for the various media components, access for funds to produce the web series component or the film component, etc. If you understand your own business first, it will make navigation easier. Many transmedia professionals would fall under the umbrellas for film production, other the arts, others still new media/technology. Know where you fit. And, as always, if your production company promises to create jobs, you will be best poised for access to funds.
If you are an independent creative (and maybe even not-so-indie), I cannot recommend enough getting connected to non-profit organizations like Raindance, which has offices around the world including the UK and several in Canada. They understand the funding system (mostly for film/tv but also beyond) and can help you digest the system much better than you by yourself wandering through my plethora of links.
Some of these links of funds you will find are strictly for Canadian citizens, but since some have expressed the desire to immigrate, I have included them. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I will add more resources as I remember them. If you noticed any I missed, feel free to comment below.
And if you are a seasoned Canadian professional: please share your experiences of the reality of working in transmedia in Canada with the global community at large. I would love to hear your comments.
My list off the top of my head:
SMPI has a good overview here of some funds available for digital media funding sources but there is a few dead links. http://www.smpia.sk.ca/digital-media-initiative/digital-media-funding-sources.htm
Another one with some dead links but useful info: http://www.famed.ca/national.html
Also read what Lucas Johnson (Silverstring Media) had to say on the matter: http://silverstringmedia.com/2011/02/07/revisiting-financing-transmedia/
Also read my two-part interview series on IPF Funding in Canada where I interviewed past and current recipients:
FILM/BROADCASTING (some overlap with new media, etc):
CULTURAL (A wide net that encompasses a lot of transmedia platforms):
BUSINESS/ SMALL BUSINESS:
Look for access for funds in new media, interactive digital, travel grants, publishing, film, etc.
It would be too exhaustive for me to names each council in every city and region so be prepared to research this on your own. But here is a start for Ontario at least.