IPF doles out $1.2 million for webisode productions

Eleven new series will be supported by the Independent Production Fund - two have already found homes on Showcase.ca and Bite TV, and are seeking sponsors to integrate into the plot.

A pilot program from the Independent Production Fund (IPF) in Canada will help finance 11 new webisode series, distributing $1.2 million among the Canadian production companies that were selected. The new funding program, which received 166 applications this year, shows the IPF board’s commitment to adapt to a changing media and production industry, says Andra Sheffer, executive director, Independent Production Fund.

‘The IPF has been funding drama series for television now for 20 years. It really is the board’s objective to adapt with the demand of the industry and go to where our audiences are,’ Sheffer tells MiC.

Most of the new series are open for sponsorship and brand integration, and while they are all hunting for a broadcaster that will house their programs online, some have already found their homes on Showcase.ca and Bite TV.

‘In some cases, there is the intention of putting together a number of the episodes and broadcasting them [on TV] but usually those will be on specialty channels,’ Sheffer says.

Moderation Town (6 x 4 minutes), produced by Halifax-based Stitch Media, is about a small town that sees its main industry collapse, and as everyone is forced to adapt they become web moderators: people who police the internet and work to maintain a good web community for corporations. Airing on Canwest’s Showcase.ca sometime this fall, Moderation Town targets males aged 18 to 35 and the ideal sponsor, says Victoria Ha, producer and partner at Stitch, can be any car brand or drink brand that is actively involved in the digital space.

‘Moderation town has always been designed and written to incorporate product placement or sponsors who wants to be showcased,’ Ha tells MiC.

Papillon (20 X 3 minutes) is about a budget airline that was founded as a result of the industry deregulations some 30 years ago. Papillon’s fleet is staffed by jaded flight attendants and ‘otherwise unemployable’ pilots, so wacky things often happen. Co-produced by Duopoly and Farmhouse Productions, the series has scored a deal with Bite TV and Bite.ca in Canada, and will be available on Babelgum.com to the rest of the world, says Catherine Tait, president of Duopoly.

‘The show is set primarily inside an airplane so any food or drink brands that make sense to the context…and electronic devices of any sort could be worked into the plotline,’ Tait says.

Fair Play (10 x 8 minutes), produced by Lifeforce Entertainment, is a drama about the game of golf, centred around a child prodigy who passed up the opportunity to play pro in order to raise a family. Eventually, he gets scouted by a sponsor while playing to get away from marital problems, which are also documented in the series, and the golfer starts to work towards winning the Masters Tournament. Targeting males aged 18 to 35, Fair Play (working title) is also open to sponsors, says Chantal Leblanc-Everett, project and production manager.

‘[It's ideal for] brand integration in terms of golf products, sports brands and sports drinks,’ Leblanc-Everett tells MiC. ‘We could do integration, we could also do takeovers on the website, we can do banner ads, pre- and post-roll and layover ads as well.’ The series will be shown on LifeforceTV.com, but producers are working to find a broadcast partner.

Other shows that the IPF is funding this year include the preschool series Buddy Bunnies (15 x 5 minutes), produced by Periscope Pictures; Eye to Eye with Ruby Sky (12 x 4-8 minutes), a teen mystery series produced by Story2.OH; Guidestones (40 x 3 minutes) a paranormal/thriller series from iThentic / 3 O’clock.tv; Juliette! (10 x 4 minutes) by Les Productions Passez Go Inc.; Tights & Fights – Ashes (180 x 3 minutes) a superhero series (pictured) produced by GopherX Productions; Yoohoo.tv (6 x 10 minutes) from Groupe 33; Fabrique-moi un conte by Jimmy Lee & Sid Lee; and 11 Règles (11 x 4 minutes ) from Whimz Studio.