Funding Canadian Film 101

The filmmaking industry in Canada can seem a daunting beast, with securing the financing necessary to get a project off the ground the first snaggle-toothed impediment. Indeed, the abundance of hurdles on this front is part of the reason Canadian filmmaker Paul Donovan once compared making a movie in Canada to climbing Mount Everest without oxygen.

Regardless, there’s no shortage of money-backed enthusiasm for getting Canadian films into the rarified air where successful productions lurk.

From film collectives and local-area arts councils through government-mandated broadcaster purses, private equity financing, tax incentives, debt financing, international co-production partners, film distributors and straight-up government funding and incentives, there’s a vast range of sources available for bankrolling Canadian productions.
Here are some of them:

    A slew of certified independent production funds have money available to subsidize everything from original first works to feature-film projects by well-established filmmakers. They are:

Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund
Cogeco Program Development Fund
Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia
Independent Production Fund
Le Fonds Harold Greenberg
Quebecor Fund
Rogers Documentary Fund
Saskatchewan Film and Video Development Corporation (SaskFilm)
Shaw Rocket Fund (formerly Shaw Television Broadcast Fund)
Small Market Local Programming Fund
The TELUS Fund
Telefilm Canada

    The National Film Board of Canada — under recent criticism for limiting that component of its budget earmarked for new-film production — operates a filmmaker assistance program (in French, it’s the Aide du cinéma independent). Here, Canada’s public film producer and distributor offers technical services and support to emerging independent Canadian filmmakers.

    The Canadian Independent Film & Video Fund is a dynamic private-sector funding body that supports independent producers’ non-theatrical film, videos and new media projects that have been unable to win the required level of broadcast licence fees to make them eligible for Canadian Television Fund or Telefilm funding.

    There’s an increasing count of less-traditional streams for funding films in this country, including crowdsourcing.

It’s important to note that equity financing is almost always part of the equation for independent film financing. In other words, all the funds included in the above list typically just constitute one piece of financing, and have to be backed by private-equity investments and/or pre-sales.

Here at Goldrush — where we pursue a financing strategy for the live-action and animated feature-length motion pictures we finance and produce that facilitates meeting or exceeding targeted financial performance criteria — we know all too well that establishing financing for a film is an important first step in seeing the final product through.

Once the dollars are secured, the creative engines can go at full blast and the ascent up the mountain eases meaningfully. Have a look at some of our mountain-toppers here.