Tag Archives: Industry News

Paramount+ in Canada and The Shine Network Institute announce the Indigenous Producers Budgeting Intensive

From a media release:

Today, Paramount+ in Canada and The Shine Network Institute (TSNI) announce the Indigenous Producers Budgeting Intensive, an online course and new resource to support the professional development and mentorship of Indigenous women in film, television and media. This first virtual course will be geared toward budgeting for film. It will be accessible on TSNI’s @Learnatshine platform and will launch on National Indigenous Peoples Day – Friday, June 21, 2024.

Geared toward emerging and mid-level Indigenous female producers, this first intensive course of 10 x one-hour modules offer students hands-on learning accompanied by Indigenous-framed tutorials designed to empower students as they prepare to produce their first feature film. The course will also include candid conversations with Indigenous female producers to inspire and motivate students by giving them access to industry veterans who can dispel myths and misconceptions about producing.

“Working with The Shine Network Institute on this course is truly the first step in our partnership,” said Doug Smith, SVP Streaming & Content Licensing Paramount Global, Canada. “After listening and consulting with Jennifer Podemski and her team over the past few months we are proud to collaborate on this online course which will provide tangible skills to those interested in line producing, one of the most important jobs on any set. It is also a project we can build on in the months and years to come to support even more of TSNI’s membership and the next generation of Indigenous producers.”

“I am thrilled to be partnering with Paramount + Canada for this course,” said Jennifer Podemski, President & CEO, The Shine Network Institute. “Partnerships like this allow TSNI to offer the highest level of training and mentorship while building capacity for Indigenous people within the screen sector. Although our mission at TSNI is to foster the careers of Indigenous women who are the least represented across the sector and experience the most disproportionate outcomes, this course, which will be offered on our @Learnatshine platform, is open to all Indigenous professionals working within Canada’s film, television and digital media space.”

This initiative is the third partnership Paramount+ in Canada has announced that reinforces its long-standing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Earlier this fall, the company announced a collaboration with the Black Screen Office for the Black Creators Festival Initiative; a joint venture with BIPOC TV & Film, and the National Screen Institute Partner for the new ELEVATE program; and now TSNI’s Budget Online Intensive.

These programs are intricately connected to the mission of Paramount Global’s Content for Change initiative, which seeks to counteract narratives that enable bias, stereotypes and hate using the power of our content, the creative supply chain that powers it, and the culture that underpins everything we do.


Writers Guild of Canada releases new report on equity, diversity and inclusion in Canadian television

From a media release:

The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has released a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Report with 2022 data. The initiative is part of the WGC and its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee’s efforts to work towards addressing issues of historic underrepresentation in Canadian television. (Diversity groups are defined by the WGC as Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ2S, People of Colour, People with Disabilities.)

The new report provides membership data from 2017 to 2022 and includes contract data from 58 live-action and 29 animated series that started production in 2022.

For the first time, this report includes earnings data and also features interviews with members who have participated in training and networking opportunities for diverse writers.

The data shows some marked increases in 2022, including:

  • The percentage of Indigenous writers and writers with disabilities joining the Guild grew to 7% each, from 5% and 4% in 2021 respectively. The percentage of diverse members joining with intersectional identities has also grown from 12% in 2021 to 17% in 2022.
  • The percentage of WGC diverse writers who are working has increased steadily from 21% in 2018 to 38% in 2022. The increase is largely explained by a higher participation of writers of colour and Black writers.
  • Writing credits for People of Colour have increased consistently from 7% to 17% between 2018 and 2022. Similarly, the share of writing credits for Black writers increased from 3% to 9.4% during the same period. In the case of LGBTQ2S screenwriters, writing credits recovered from a steady decrease and now sit at 17%.

Other observations on the 2022 data include:

  • Across every diversity category, the share of writers earning more than $200,000 is well below the 7.9% of “white, cisgender, heterosexual and non-disabled” (non-diverse) writers in that category.
  • In animation, there is a significant gap between the compensation of non-diverse and diverse writers. While non-diverse animation writers represent 22.9% of working writers and account for 15.4% of total earnings, diverse animation writers represent 8.6% of working writers but only account for 2.2% of total earnings.
  • The share of Indigenous writers and writers with disabilities working on TV remains low when compared to population numbers. The percentage of Indigenous writers increased by half a percentage only to 2.5% in 2022. Similarly, the share of writers with disabilities continues to be markedly low (3%).

The full report is now available on the WGC’s website HERE.

The Writers Guild of Canada represents 2,500 professional English-language screenwriters across Canada—the creators of Canadian entertainment enjoyed o


Production has begun on Treaty Road for APTN

From a media release:

Saxon de Cocq, Hannah Hermanson and Ell McEachern of 3 Story Pictures, Doug Cuthand of Blue Hill Productions, and Candy Renae Fox are pleased to announce that principal photography has commenced on Season 1 of Treaty Road, the ground-breaking, long overdue 6-part docuseries (one hour each) that follows Dakota/Anishinaabekwe educator and researcher, Erin Goodpipe (RezX, The Other Side, Bathsheba: Search for Evil) and Métis writer, director and producer Saxon de Cocq (The Other Side, The Invincible Sergeant Bill (CBC) and Land Acknowledgement (CIFF)) on their personal and communal journey as they travel the old roads to uncover the truth about the signing of the Numbered Treaties, signed between 1871 and 1921, and ultimately themselves.

Treaty Road will be broadcast on APTN and produced with financial support from Canada Media Fund and Creative Saskatchewan.

Filming takes place across Treaty 1 through 6 territories in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Production commenced in October 2022 and will complete in March 2023. The series will go to air later this year.

While exploring his Métis ancestry, writer/director Saxon de Cocq discovered that his great grandfather (x4) was the Honorable James McKay, a prominent Métis from the Red River area. McKay was involved in many of the Numbered Treaty negotiations, eventually becoming a Treaty Commissioner. With mixed feelings, Saxon is driven to learn more… what was McKay’s involvement, his motivations for playing a pivotal role in this part of history? Saxon enlists the help of his friend Erin Goodpipe, a community educator and researcher with knowledge in treaty rights.

Treaty Road is directed by Candy Fox (The Other Side, Big Brother Canada, Zarqa), and hosted by Saxon de Cocq and Erin Goodpipe and produced by Saxon de Cocq, Candy Fox, Ell McEachern (Staying Wild, The Other Side, and the upcoming ZARQA S2) and Hannah Hermanson (Staying Wild, The Other Side, Dirt Farmers and the upcoming ZARQA S2). The series is written by Saxon de Cocq and story edited by Berkley Brady (Dark Nature, The Secret History of: The Wild West) with Doug Cuthand (Guardians: Evolution, Miywayawin, Big Bear) serving as executive producer.

Cinematography by Jeremy Ratzlaff (By Faith, Denis, Never Seen Again) and editing by Jen Prokop (Staying Wild, The Other Side).

Producer/Director Candy Fox says, “Indigenous nations have held up their end of the Treaty relationship. My hope is that this exploration is a tool for understanding and maybe even growth for those who are unaware of what the Treaty relationship was actually meant to be.”

Host Erin Goodpipe adds, “I didn’t have the privilege to avoid the impacts of treaty. And what I mean by that is that the broken promises of the treaty have impacted my family and so many Indigenous families, in such a way that you can’t ignore those impacts. So, it’s a privilege for those who benefit from treaty and yet, don’t have to learn about what the treaties are”.

Saxon de Cocq is a Métis writer, director and creative producer from Southern Alberta, Region 3 and is a citizen of The Métis Nation of Alberta. After 15 years of refining his storytelling craft, he’s perfectly at home in both the documentary and scripted worlds. He has been the creative force behind documentary series like APTN’s nationally broadcast The Other Side (writing and directing 18 episodes and creative producing the series) as well as writing, directing and producing 8 short films that were screened and broadcast across the country, including CBC. Saxon has a preternatural gift for bringing stories to life in a relatable way and is currently in development on his second documentary series, of his creation, with APTN. Saxon is also excited to be in development on three different scripted television series.

Erin is a dakȟóta wíŋyaŋ/ anishinaabekwe from tatanka najin oyate (Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation) and is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and researcher. She is currently in the Master of Indigenous Education program and has taught at First Nations University of Canada. Alongside her education, she is involved in a number of media projects, notably as a television host on RezX , APTN’s The Other Side and is involved in Indigenous health and wellness research projects. Erin is passionate about wholistic artistic experiences and continues to work on community embedded theatre projects in a variety of ways. This can be seen in her involvement with the Globe Theatre in Regina, SK, on a number of projects including: Making Treaty 4, In Care, Where the Blood Mixes and Women of the Fur Trade. Erin has worked in various realms of community (from Indigenous youth to deputy ministers) using the arts to explore and transform personal and political narratives using story gathering and sharing practices through an Indigenous lens. Her professional work is rooted in her personal circles, where kinship, ceremony, land/sky/water based practices lead her learning and living.

Candy Renae Fox is a two-spirited, Plains Cree woman from the Piapot First Nation. Candy has been able to nurture her growth as a film director with over 20 years of involvement in the industry. Whether through her beginnings as an actor and eventual progression to directing, Candy is passionate about storytelling. Candy holds a BFA in film production. Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival named her short film Backroads as one of Canada’s Top Ten Student Shorts. She is an alumnus of the National Screen Institute’s IndigiDocs program where her film ahkâmêyimo nitânis / Keep Going, My Daughter premiered at Hot Docs. She was awarded Best Short and Audience Choice by the Saskatchewan Independent Film Awards for Keep Going. More recently, she has directed for broadcast television with Amplify (APTN), The Other Side (APTN), Big Brother Canada (Global), and ZARQA (CBC Gem). Candy is excited to be co-producing and directing the ground-breaking, six part docu-series Treaty Road which will air on APTN in fall 2023.

Doug Cuthand is an independent producer, writer, and journalist with over 30 years experience, located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He is a member of the Little Pine First Nation, a Plains Cree community in Saskatchewan. Doug is the author of two books dealing with First Nations history and treaty issues – ASKIWINA: A Cree World and Tapwe: Selected Columns of Doug Cuthand and has written a weekly column for Post Media for 30 years. He was the Chair of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College Board of Directors, precursor of the First Nations University of Canada. Blue Hill Productions is owned by Doug Cuthand and produces documentaries, docudramas, and dramas for all markets.

Hannah has over a decade of experience in the television and film industry. After earning her honors degree from Middlesex University in London, Hannah hit the ground running, making herself an indispensable part of any team she joined. From production manager to line producer, Hannah has taken on a wide range of roles and responsibilities, consistently executing projects with efficiency and grace. What sets Hannah apart is her unique combination of skills. She has a talent for bringing people together, encouraging collaboration and teamwork for the greater creative good. Her resourcefulness is unmatched, and she can turn even the most challenging of situations into a success. Her ability to lead with confidence and finesse has earned her a reputation as a problem-solver, and her contributions to the projects she works on have a lasting impact.

Ell has over twenty years’ experience in the Canadian Film and Television industry, and credits on 90+ hours of content. This journey has endowed her with a love of collaboration and the ability to foster it across diverse teams, helping projects coalesce from fragile dreams into powerful concepts. Ell’s first industry steps were taken on the accounting and finance side — and she keeps one foot firmly planted there as a CFA Charterholder. She maintains her membership in the DGC Accounting Caucus, as well as a noteworthy track record of project execution, delivery and successful audits. As a producer, Ell combines an exceptional eye for detail with big picture thinking. While she’s a gifted creative in her own right, her secret weapon is helping the team levitate over complex roadblocks to get the stories told.


George Cheeks to keynote the 2023 Banff World Media Festival

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to announce President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS and Chief Content Officer, News and Sports for Paramount+ George Cheeks is confirmed to participate in the Festival’s Summit Series, a premium keynote speaker lineup featuring the boldest voices and the world’s most influential media leaders. Cheeks will speak on Monday, June 12th, in an exclusive fireside conversation. The 44th edition of the Festival will take place in-person June 11 – 14 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

“George Cheeks has been an innovative business and creative force in the television industry for over thirty years,” commented Kevin Beggs, Chair of the Board of Directors for BANFF and Chair & Chief Creative Officer of the Lionsgate Television Group. “We at the Banff World Media Festival are honored to have George give our keynote and share his views on the evolving industry.”

“In this liminal era of the entertainment industry, George Cheeks is paving an innovative path,” said BANFF Executive Director, Jenn Kuzmyk. “We’re honoured to welcome him to the festival and look forward to hearing his vision for the future of the business as well as insights on some of the industry’s big questions.”

The BANFF Summit Series is a curated, future-focused lineup of keynote sessions that was launched in 2019 in honour of the festival’s four-decade legacy. This powerful speaker roster features the global players who are shaping the future of the media industry. Past Summit Series speakers have included Bela Bajaria, Pearlena Igbokwe, Greg Berlanti, Ted Sarandos, Channing Dungey, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Paula Kerger, Sarah Barnett, Paul Feig, Kenan Thompson, Maverick Carter, David Linde and Seth Meyers.

Cheeks oversees CBS-branded assets within Paramount Global, including the CBS Television Network, which encompasses CBS Entertainment, CBS News and CBS Sports, as well as CBS Studios, CBS Stations, CBS Media Ventures, its first-run syndication business, and CBS-branded digital assets. He is also the Chief Content Officer, News and Sports, for Paramount+, extending the world-class content from CBS News and CBS Sports to the streaming super service. In addition, his leadership portfolio across Paramount Global includes responsibility for BET, Paramount Television Studios and the company’s free-to-air networks in the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina and Chile.

Prior to joining CBS, Cheeks served more than seven years at NBCUniversal in senior executive positions that spanned creative, business and operational roles. Most recently, he was Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios and was also in charge of late night programming for NBC Entertainment. Previously, Cheeks was Co-Chairman of NBC Entertainment and was jointly responsible for overseeing primetime, late night and scripted daytime programming for the network, including business affairs, marketing, communications, scheduling, West Coast research and digital operations, as well as first-run syndication.

Prior to being named Co-Chairman, Cheeks served as Co-President, Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios as well as President, Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment, where he oversaw the network’s lucrative and successful late night slate. Prior to that role, Cheeks was President of Business Operations and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment.

Cheeks joined NBC in 2012 after serving as Executive Vice President, Business Affairs and General Counsel, Viacom Music and Entertainment Groups, Content Distribution and Marketing, as well as Head of Standards and Practices for Viacom Media Networks, in New York. In his first stint with Viacom starting in 1998, he began working as Senior Counsel for MTV Networks in the Business and Legal Affairs Department for the Nickelodeon Group. While there, he ascended to positions of increasing responsibility, and in 2005 he was elevated to Executive Vice President and General Counsel for MTV, MTV2, MTVu, MTV Films, VH1, CMT and LOGO.

In addition to Summit Series keynotes, BANFF will return with an array of provocative panel discussions, celebrity master classes and networking opportunities to connect the global media industry to ignite new projects and support business development. Also returning: the prestigious Rockies Gala honouring the most inspiring executives and talent in the industry; and the Rockie Awards International Program Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious screen industry competitions, with participation from more than 45+ countries annually including an international jury of 150 industry professionals. Category winners, including the Grand Jury Prize, the Rogers Prize for Canadian Content, the Francophone Prize, and other special prizes, will be announced during the Festival on June 12th.


Blue Ant Media unveils three new greenlights for its Canadian specialty TV and global free streaming platforms

From a media release:

International producer, distributor and channel operator, Blue Ant Media, announced today from Prime Time three new greenlights set to air in 2023 across its Canadian specialty TV networks: T+E and Cottage Life, and its global free streaming (FAST) channels: HauntTV and Total Crime. The announcement underpins Blue Ant Media’s commitment to create premium, returnable and scalable series that offer superior storytelling and universal appeal. Overseen by Sam Linton, VP, Production and Development, Global Media, the latest originals lineup includes two world broadcast premieres on Blue Ant Media’s Canadian specialty TV channels. Blue Ant International will handle pre-sales and licensing opportunities worldwide for two new original series in the slate.

Following the ratings success of the two-part original documentary, Haunted Gold Rush, Blue Ant Media has ordered the new six-part series, Haunted by History (w/t)(6×60’; HD). The series sees the return of paranormal investigators, Corine Carey, Leanne Sallenback and Kelly Ireland, as they travel across North America and meet with real people who recount their intense, terrifying and emotional ghost experiences. Seeking the deeper meaning behind these hauntings and their ties to historic locations, the trio will undergo full-blown investigations to uncover the truth and give closure to both the witnesses and the spirits. Haunted Gold Rush launched on T+E in Canada and HauntTV in the US in October 2022. The documentary saw T+E perform 140% higher in its premiere time slot. The world broadcast premiere of Haunted by History is slated for spring 2023 on T+E in Canada during the channel’s nationwide free preview event. The series will also air on Blue Ant Media’s free streaming channel HauntTV in the US, UK and Australia in 2023.

Also commissioned is the Blue Ant Studios new original documentary, A Secret to Die For (2×60’; HD), which investigates how a person’s secret life can end up costing them their own. A Secret to Die For follows a suspenseful story arc that will keep viewers guessing who the murderer is until the very end. With emotional interviews from family and friends, the documentary weaves together a story of a seemingly successful and happy individual who’s dark past made them the perfect murder victim. The first two pilot episodes of the true crime documentary series will make its world broadcast debut on T+E in Canada this summer 2023. The series will also air in 2023 on the free streaming channel Total Crime in the US.

Finally, the new original series Secrets in the Sand (6×60’; HD) examines extraordinary curiosities that were once concealed in the deserts of the planet. From lost ancient cities to mysterious geological formations, each episode comprises four stories from different regions of the world and uses CGI, stock and archival footage, along with expert testimony to expose their secrets. The six-part series is slated to premiere in summer 2023 on Cottage Life in Canada.

For more information on Blue Ant Media’s original greenlights, please see below.


Haunted by History (w/t) (6×60’; HD)
Producer: Small Army Entertainment
World broadcast premiere scheduled for spring 2023 on T+E
Scheduled to air on HauntTV in the US, UK and Australia in 2023
Haunted by History (w/t) follows paranormal experts Corine Carey, Leanne Sallenback and Kelly Ireland as they travel across North America meeting with those who have come face-to-face with the unknown. The trio are on a mission to unlock a deeper understanding of the hauntings that take place in the world-famous locations they visit. Featuring stylized, cinematic dramatizations of eyewitness accounts, coupled with rich context provided by experts, historians and locals, Corine, Leanne and Kelly will bridge the gap between past and present in a fresh new way. The documentary series shows how paranormal investigations can enrich people’s understanding of history by giving voices to the spirits of those who lived it. Blue Ant International handles pre-sales and licensing opportunities worldwide.

T+E/Total Crime

A Secret to Die For (2×60’; HD)
Producer: Blue Ant Studio
World broadcast premiere scheduled for spring 2023 on T+E
Scheduled to air on Total Crime in the US in 2023
The documentary series, A Secret to Die For, investigates how a person’s secret life can end up costing them their own. The two-part documentary peels back the layers of the victim’s seemingly happy life to reveal new, dark secrets that family and friends would never have believed. As the missing pieces of the victim’s life come together, new interviewees offer an entirely fresh perspective, concluding with the dramatic revelation of a secret explaining why the victim was killed and identifying the murderer. Blue Ant International handles pre-sales and licensing opportunities worldwide.

Cottage Life

Secrets in the Sand (6×60’; HD)
Producer: Shark Teeth Films
Canadian broadcast premiere scheduled for summer 2023 on Cottage Life
Deserts are often an afterthought when it comes to climate change, but as global temperatures increase, they are among the most vulnerable places on the planet. Violent sandstorms and erosion are increasingly reshaping the arid regions of the Earth and as they do, astounding discoveries are being exposed. The series examines incredible curiosities that were once concealed for thousands of years, including the Egyptian Stonehenge, a lost ancient city and a tomb of an unknown soldier.