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Documentary Series or Magazine? A Matter of Depth and Opinion

When developing a financing plan for a media convergence plan, it is crucial to make sure of the project’s eligibility before initiating the processes and reflections leading up to submissions.

When it comes to the Canada Media Fund (CMF), there is a major difference to take into account: the one between a documentary series and a TV magazine. Indeed, moneys are available to the first, and not for the latter. (Note that TV magazine projects are eligible to the Bell and Quebecor funds.)

In its guidelines, the CMF defines a documentary as:

An original work of non-fiction, primarily designed to inform but may also educate and entertain, providing an in-depth critical analysis of a specific subject or point of view. These programs shall not be used as commercial vehicles.

When can we say that a topic is addressed in-depth? When is not simply factual anymore?

Another important component of the definition:

“These programs shall not be used as commercial vehicles.”

It is easier here to draw the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

For information purposes, the CMF offers a (partial) list excluded formats:

“Sponsored productions, sports, news, game shows, current affairs, public affairs, lifestyle productions, “how-to” productions, reality television, instructional television, infomercials, music videos, formal or curriculum-based educational programming, foreign format buys without significant Canadian adaptation and creative contribution, magazine productions, talk shows, “talkshows culturels”, award shows, special event celebrations, galas, reporting and current events, religious programming, fundraising productions, benefits, tributes, promotional productions, pep-rallies, travelogues and interstitials.”

Caution is therefore required, these guidelines giving way to very different interpretations. If you are not sure if your project fits into these guidelines, visit the CMF or consult an agency like ours. We will guide you with your financing plan, and if your project does not meet requirements, recommend alternatives.

One must keep in mind that the CMF is not out there to “sink” producers. One must therefore see with the Fund’s content analysts the ineligibility of the production. That’s what they do (Oh! and don’t tell anyone, but we’ve heard about derogations being granted…)

(photo via thetruthabout)