It’s a year after our inaugural spotlight on web series seeking Independent Production Fund support, and the state of those series in Canada is booming. Projects like But I’m Chris Jericho, The Amazing Gayl Pile, Whatever, Linda, Space Riders: Division Earth and Inhuman Condition are just a few of the many that received IPF support in the past and have gone on to full-blown web and television series.
Established in 1991 to provide financial support for dramatic television series, the IPF was expanded in 2010 to include financing drama series for the web. That mandate has been extended indefinitely. The result? Dozens of trailers for potential projects have been posted on YouTube. Check them out here.
With a deadline of March 31 approaching, creators are looking for support via views and comments about their potential projects before the IPF makes their decision; in 2017 the IPF approved funding for 15 scripted series (10 in English and five in French); three were renewals for past projects with the other 12 being new ones. (One was My 90-Year-Old Roommate, starring Lauren Corber, Ethan Cole and Josh Schultz.)
Here are a few projects that caught our eye, as well as the links to some honourable mentions. Watch, click, comment and help them all gain funding!
The Series: Silver
The Creator(s): Simu Liu
The Idea: In the year 2025, a vampire named Reeve (Liu) works for a group called the Silver Corps—a paramilitary group charged with keeping vampires in check. Reeve ignores an order to kill a vampire child. Now his own organization is hunting them.
The Inspiration: Simu Liu has been looking to do something in the genre space for a long time. Inspired by the sci-fi and action projects he watched as a kid and a love of stunts, he combined them all into Silver. “When you attack something that is already out there and has been done, you want a fresh take on it,” he says. “Instead of having the vampires be these creatures that are respected and revered, they are the social outcasts and a stand-in for a lot of minority groups today and throughout history.”
The Plan: A 10-episode web series of 10 minutes each that Liu likens as a comic book on film: “A visually-driven story where every frame is beautiful.”
The Series: The Communist’s Daughter
The Creator(s): Leah Cameron
The Idea: Amid 1980s Canada, Dunyasha McDougald, the daughter of two Communists struggles with fitting in at high school and supporting her family’s beliefs.
The Inspiration: The Communist’s Daughter is loosely based on Cameron’s childhood: her father was a Communist during the 1980s. As a result—Cameron explains—the family car was a Lada, Soviet Life magazine was delivered to the door, and family vacations were to Cuba to “support the economy.” It was only looking back on her childhood that Cameron realized how odd—and funny—her life was. The trailer stars Jessica Holmes (Air Farce), Aaron Poole (Strange Empire), Bruce Novakowski (Inconceivable) and Hilary McCormack.
The Plan: Cameron’s creation will live on the web as 10- to 12-minute episodes; she’s got major plans for the family that takes advantage of a more serialized setup. “The father is going to run for election in a highly-embarrassing and highly public campaign,” Cameron says. “Which will make his daughter’s attempt to fit in at high school even harder and that needs a story arc.” Additionally, Cameron is excited to show Gen Xers and millennials who are interested in what Toronto looked like in the 1980s to actually see the city—and the diversity of its population—represented during that time.
The Series: Don’t Ask Alice (The Adventures of Collie and Doli)
The Creator(s): Connie Wang and Lakna Edilima
The Idea: Two millennials, Collie (Wang) and Doli (Edilima), offer new-age advice to fellow twentysomethings.
The Inspiration: Connie Wang and Lakna Edilima, friends since Grade 9 math class, weren’t getting the gigs (Wang in acting, Edilima in a writer’s room) in the Canadian TV industry they’d hoped for. After a night out cracking each other up, they decided to just create their own series. “Collie and Doli think they know everything,” Wang says. “At the time, Lakna and I thought we knew everything when we wrote it.”
The Plan: Season 1 of 12 webisodes of about five minutes each. Each one features a caller needing advice from Collie and Doli. The pair offer something outrageous to their caller … and then try out their own advice. “We find out that, ‘Oh, this doesn’t actually work.’ The moral of the story is, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have called him that,’ or ‘Maybe I shouldn’t just assume that guys like that.'”
The Series: Beattie & Mae
The Creator(s): Melanie Leishman and Emily Coutts
The Idea: Two sisters, Beattie (Leishman) and Mae (Coutts), find themselves recruited by a competitive direct-sales cosmetics company in the fashion-and-feminism influenced world of 1997.
The Inspiration: The friends were commiserating over their shared past of being initiated by places and friends in multi-level marketing companies. The sales technique was ripe for humour, Leishman says, and the show grew from there while embracing feminism, relationships and the 1990s. “We get to the root of Beattie and Mae’s relationship and their relationship to the company,” Coutts says. The specific decade was chosen, Leishman explains, because it was before the Internet and recruitment changed to online. It also serves as a backdrop to two women coming of age.
“Feminism has come a long way in the last 20 years,” Leishman says. “The pop culture world of 1997 seemed like a hilarious place to set these two women as they try to figure out who they are in the big city for the first time.”
The Plan: An eight-episode web series of seven-minute instalments is the first step for Beattie & Mae, with a long-term goal of an adaptation for television. A main event occurs in each episode, Leishman says, with the focus on the sisters dealing with that incident differently.
The Motorcycle Project
Two half-sisters (played by Elise Bauman and Humberly González) go on a wild and crazy adventure across South America in search of the truth behind their sister’s mysterious death.
The Has Been
Amy Jo Johnson (Flashpoint), writes, directs and stars in this project about a bankrupt former A-list actress who attends ComicCon to raise the funds needed to pay off her debts.
What Got Did
Created by Grace Lynn Kung and Rob Shapiro, Paige Ho will stop at nothing to turn ParKer into the next great startup in Silicon Valley North. The only thing standing in her way? Pretty much everything.
An action comedy about a queer Black superhero (Sedina Fiati), who swoops in to save her woman crush (Christina Song), from microaggressions at the office.
A group of sixth graders get themselves put into detention so they can explore the tunnels under their school.
A mockumentary about two co-dependant best friends Kevin (Kevin Vidal) and Christian (Christian Smith) serving as the “swings” (musical understudies) for a giant Broadway-level production of Nickelback The Musical.
The After Party Girls
The partially true, completely embarrassing stories of best friends Jules (Cheyenne Mabberley) and Fiona (Katey Hoffman), who are determined to become popular and the life of the party.
Megan Follows directs and Alanna Bale and Kristopher Turner both star in this psychological suspense series written by Alison Bingeman and based on Edeet Ravel’s novel.
Six inner city teens chase success in rap stardom, basketball fame, fashion design, drug running, self-worth and independence on the streets of Toronto.
Follows the damaged actors and actresses who play doctors on Critical Condition. Created by and starring Adam G. Reid alongside co-stars Sara Canning and Adrian Holmes.
Two Toronto rappers are stuck running a Chinese restaurant in smalltown Alberta. Will they chase the beats or the eats?
A peek at the drag scene through the eyes of an eclectic group of drag queens as they prep to compete in the “Miss Church Street Pageant.”
A gallows humour series about a serial killer who hunts down arrogant social media personas in the vein of Scream Queens meets Fargo.
A dramatic comedy about the people involved in a goal-setting group at a big-city addiction research clinic.