Industry Update – Canadian International Television Festival

CITF-LogoThe Canadian International Television Festival debuts on November 15, 2013.  Perhaps TV, eh? readers forgot it existed.  Diane Wild – whose site I infrequently publish articles to – forgot it existed until I mentioned the CITF to her earlier this month.  CITF promotion will hit full force in the next few days, but then, it has to – there’s a press conference scheduled for November 5, after all.  As of the date I finish this article (November 3, 2013), the CITF confirms three things about itself – it’s real, there’s a Murdoch Mysteries-related event, and it promotes the #EyeOnCanada initiative.  Quite a feat, for a public festival that debuts in less than two weeks.

While I don’t know the CITF’s behind-the-scenes happenings, the festival cuts things close with its launch.  The CITF’s first Twitter posts were made on October 24, 2013.  The Canada Media Fund website has dates and times for certain parts of the festival, and the CITF’s first day is set aside for industry.  Murdoch Mysteries is the subject of the first announced screening and Q&A session.

My chief problem with the CITF is the lack of promotion from its July 10, 2013 announcement until October 23, 2013.  That’s more than three months the CITF could have used to build its brand.  Bell Media – which helps fund the CITF – knows that its fall upfront sells its schedule to advertisers, so hype is the order of the day there.  Until late October, there was no CITF hype.  Even after October 29, there was hype for one show, and an industry initiative.

CBC Live revealed the CITF’s first show-related announcement, on October 29, 2013.  The CBC Live article tells readers to go to the CITF’s official web page, yet the CITF web site wasn’t active when that story went live.  The website is live now, albeit in a spartan form of screening times, and PDF press files.

I compare and contrast the CITF’s launch to Toronto Animation Arts Festival International’s June 2012 launch, and Canadian Screen Week’s February 2013 launch.  TAAFI launched a website the day the festival was announced, in April 2012.  TAAFI launched its first initiative in late August 2011.  It also made sure to announce at least one name talent, John Kricfalusi, more than a month before the festival began.

Parts of Canadian Screen Week build around elements that existed in the Genie and Gemini Awards days – non-televised awards ceremonies, and In Studio.  Canadian Screen Week is more industry-oriented than TAAFI, but that’s deliberate on the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s part.  ACCT needs to rebuild its reputation, after all.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox screening of Flashpoint‘s finale was the genesis for the Canadian International Television Festival.  The difference is, CTV promoted Flashpoint‘s finale heavily.  Flashpoint was an important part of Bell Media’s 2012 fall upfronts.  By comparison, the CITF is promoted about as well as Producing Parker‘s second-season premiere, and worse than at least two recent Toronto-based entertainment events launched in the past couple of years.  I don’t like to criticize new additions to Canada’s cultural sausage, but in the world of promotion, sometimes “stay tuned” isn’t enough.