Canada’s Bell Fund revamps Low Budget program

The organization is seeking to increase submissions to the Low Budget Production Program via three significant changes.
July 25, 2011

In an effort to broaden the scope of the fund and increase accessibility, Canada’s Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund has announced several key changes to its Low Budget Production Program.

Starting Oct. 1, the Fund will begin accepting monthly applications – previous deadlines were set at three times a year – and it is also dropping the requirement that broadcasters must contribute 10% to production financing.

The Low Budget Program is for Canadian interactive digital projects associated with a TV program with a budget under CDN$100,000. Producers can qualify for funding of up to 75% of their budgets.

The change to the Fund’s submission cycle mirrors a similar change made in the spring to its Development Program, which helped spur a greater number of applications.

The Fund’s executive director Andra Sheffer said she would like to see more producers consider the Low Budget program since big budgets may not be appropriate for every project – specifically for genres such as adult drama and one-offs that may not require large budgets.

“If it’s the first season of a series, why do a $500,000 project if you don’t know if the series is going to be successful or not?” she told realscreen sister publication Playback Daily. “We’re finding the big budget projects with all the bells and whistles just weren’t getting the kinds of audiences and traffic we expected, and a lot of the smaller ones were doing way better. We’ve seen some fantastic low budget projects under $100,000 – they get more traffic because they’re targeted and appropriate for the age group.”

The deadline switch was also made possible thanks to new technology.

An online voting system that was put into place for the changes to the Development Program has been applied to the Low Budget Program, doing away with the need for the board to physically meet every month.

Sheffer said the elimination of the 10% requirement was made in response to the “huge demand” from producers who were having trouble getting that 10% from the broadcaster and would often seek alternatives.

With the change, producers now have the flexibility to seek that percentage from another arm’s length source.

(From Playback Daily)

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.