Monday, June 14, 2010

The Canada Media Fund Transition...the buzz continues!

Great news for digital media producers! The CMF Experimental Stream deadline has been extended from June 21 to July 5, 2010, at the request of its stakeholders -

The extra lead time appears to be very welcome because the recoupment policy for this stream will only be announced this week, and somehow, many producers are still trying to wrap their heads around the new guidelines. Frankly, I don't blame them. I've been chatting with a group of digital media producers over the past few weeks and at in Kelowna last week, and while I thought most have been just apathetic towards investigating CMF funding - as it doesn't fit kindly into their independant business model - I'm slowly beginning to realise that there's more to it...

With $27 mil available in funding for the Experimental Stream alone (they unfortunately never did get around to changing that misnomer), $13 mil on Development and $324mil on the production of "Convergent" projects, it's hard to ignore the opportunities available. So is it just awareness that is lacking or are producers just wary to dip their toes in at the first round, so that the the administrators can iron out the kinks in the new set up before attempting to apply? My guess is that its a case of both contributing to the lethargy. Does there need to be more clarity and awareness? I think yes - on the part of both funders and producers alike. But who's responsibility is that? Hopefully, Banff will be a place where some of the kinks are straightened out and confusion clarified.

A website developer I know was flummoxed when he was asked during an Experimental application interview what his "Distribution Channel" was for his online project and was driven to further confusion, when "www" was not regarded as an acceptable response. Are we just trying to insert square pegs into round holes? Have we moved from the traditional paradigms or are we merely regressing? Will this experiment succeed? I truly hope so. It would be a major shame for the digital media industry if this window of opportunity closes, just because no one was really paying attention.

So if you're not part of the elite admiring the snow capped Rockies and are the humble digital media creator still hacking at his keyboard to complete your application for the Experimental Stream, or are just finding it problemsome understanding the ROI or navigating the application process, please do drop me a comment below with your thoughts.

Let me know how you think we can navigate this transition better. I'm reaching out to get feedback to feed into an industry initiative to help producers come closer to understanding the business of convergence and hopefully access available CMF funding. It may be just one step towards providing an open platform to allow digital media developers to connect with their traditional media counterparts - but its much better than apathy.


  1. well i think it may be because the gamers who are seeing it are people who develop console games, and its a big thing to come up with a console game concept and pull that all off with a transmedia film.

    whereas the indy developers of games (be it mobile, facebook, casual pc etc) are not necessarily hearing about this. nor may they have connections to film people to develop proposals to apply in the first place.

    the film/tv and digital media producers are not always in the same networking groups it seems, at least in Vancouver, and so I think to start, there needs to be some groundwork meeting people from all over the creative realms, as well as educating gamers and film/tv producers on each others crafts.

    whether time will allow this before deadlines close, is another story. it would indeed be a real shame to see this pass into non-usage, as if its not used this year, there will be no budget for it next year.

    Ryan Arndt

  2. I do agree from conversations I have had with many in the digital media industry that the CMF Experimental Stream has had its share of challenges during this "transition" period.

    One common theme I keep hearing is that the CMF does not truly understand the digital media space. And more importantly, the question that some are asking is whether or not they care. I have heard many developers are completely dumbfounded and flummoxed by the comments and answers the CMF has given to their questions, which further reinforces the lack of understanding of the digital media industry. Yes, very much a square peg in a round hole.

    Typically, when people seek out financing for their ventures, instinctively they try to seek out investors that understand their business. They want to see the value-added proposition that comes with the money.

    Will the CMF Experiment succeed? It depends on what their success measures are - does anyone know how they measure success? I suppose if success is measured by their ability to dole out money, I guess they will succeed. If the measure is to make a meaningful impact to grow the Canadian digital media into a global leadership position, then I don't know.

    It all comes down to vision, leadership, and entrepreneurialism doesn't it? Personally, I believe the best thing to happen would be for a separate fund from the CMF that is for the Digital Media industry, managed by people from the Digital Media industry.

  3. It'll be interesting to see what they do fund.

    My meetings with them were good, but frankly I don't think they even know what's going on.

    They've been handed a new mandate by the government (all part of the spill off from the Canada 3.0 conference I believe) and they have to adapt quickly to it.

    My suspicion is that there will be no shortage of applicants though.

  4. Yes Riel, there may be no shortage, but it's the quality of applicants and not the quantity that matters!

  5. At first glance the amalgamation of the Canada New Media Fund (CNMF) with the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) looked promising. Pooling millions of dollars towards supporting two converging industries both creating content seemed to make sense, n’est ce pas? Oui, but the rebranded CMF is still largely a broadcaster-driven fund managed by old school paradigms. It’s as if all the digital media industry knowledge and expertise developed over the last ten years at Telefilm who used to manage the CNMF was thrown out the digital window!

  6. Christine, thank you for leading this charge.

    Personally, I'm most concerned regarding the CMF recoupment policies. In reading and re-reading their document it seems there is a schism. As I understand it, CMF money is generated by taxing broadcasters/service providers to create a pool whereby Canadian content can be produced to help fulfill broadcast obligations while supporting a multi-billion dollar domestic industry. The rippling benefits of supporting these industries reach all sectors of our economy.

    With the CMF recoupment policies owning the intellectual property (IP) of the project at up to 50% returns, this does not encourage growth in the market. This seems a policy of double dipping and actually makes it extremely difficult for producers to secure private sector investors for the gap financing. Please anyone, correct me if I am mistaken. I have yet to wrap my head around this.

    On one hand they are offering support while the other they are shackling our ability to launch a successful enterprise.

    I think a policy of equitable profit sharing to a maximum of their investment with a small lifetime percentage of IP ownership would be much more reasonable and beneficial to all.

    Providing CMF up to 50% of a project's lifetime income is unreasonable especially given their mandate to encourage growth of the industry.

  7. Thanks for your comments Jonathan,

    I have heard similar complaints from others in the Digital Community who find CMF's 50%recoupment stance much too aggressive and appears prohibitive to further private investment. Perhaps a sliding scale or a small lifetime percentage as you have suggested may be more realistic and be in synch with CMF's mandate to support and develop the industry.

    My concern is that in comprehending the long term scenario, the most promising producers will avoid applying completely, while other less experienced producers plunge in, not aware of the repercussions.

    This will be an "Experimental" year indeed and as Riel said, it will be interesting to see who applies and who obtains funding.

  8. Does anyone know how much the New Media Fund ever recouped before being merged into this new fund? I think the numbers are dismal at best.

  9. I'd also like to know the actual numbers.

    Anyone have a link to their site?
    (it's so fun finding information on there, with their non standard navigation and confusing structure).