How to Write for Telefilm

I recently looked into what it takes to qualify for Telefilm funding, if you’re looking at producing your own film.  For those of you not from Canada, Telefilm is a government-funded organization that provides partial financing to Canadian feature films.

There are three distinct categories:

  1. Microbudget Indie – $250k and under
  2. Regional – $250 – $2.5 million
  3. National – $2.5-$5 million

Obviously, your feature must be filmed in Canada using Canadian cast and crew.  Not everyone must be Canadian, but generally speaking, the CAVCO requirements apply.  CAVCO is the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, which is also a government-funded organization that provides eligible Canadian filmmakers with tax credits.

Director 2 points
Screenwriter (see s.4.06) 2 points
Lead performer for whose services the highest remuneration was payable (see s.4.05) 1 point
Lead performer for whose services the second highest remuneration was payable 1 point
Director of photography 1 point
Art director 1 point
Music composer (see s.4.07) 1 point
Picture editor 1 point

The Telefilm system is designed to help Canadian filmmakers get their films into theatres.  This is why their main interest is in films at budgets of $5million+ as they tend to perform better at the box office.  The main stipulation is that the film takes place in either a Canadian location or an undefined location such as space.

The microbudget program is new and intended primarily for film students.  The Regional level is for inventive films that typically wouldn’t make it into theatres and so at this level, they’re not concerned with securing advanced distribution, but they are interested in a solid and creative marketing plan.  At the national level, they require an experienced team, a producer who knows what he’s doing and a distribution deal with a hefty advance and solid marketing plan.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s great for Canadian filmmakers to be able to afford to get their films made even if no one sees it.  :0  I didn’t say that.  Honestly, Canadian films are starting to get a lot of support now.  With new distribution companies like IndieCan leading the battle to get Canadian films seen in theatres, and the First Weekend Club Canadian encourages filmgoers to see Canadian films the first weekend to boost box office sales to keep films in theatres longer.  So go see a Canadian film now!

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