Indigenous Initiatives at Telefilm

From the beginning of cinema, the stories of Indigenous peoples have often been told by non-Indigenous filmmakers. As a step toward more accurate representation, one of Telefilm Canada’s key priorities is to support Indigenous creators in bringing their bold visions to the screen. Telefilm is proud to play a role in amplifying the voices of Indigenous creators who are driven to tell their unique stories. As a result of this investment, Indigenous talent have become the driving force behind some of Telefilm’s most successful films, garnering acclaim and recognition at national and international film festivals, as well as receiving worldwide distribution.

Telefilm’s approach to better supporting Indigenous voices arose from dialogue with Indigenous creators from across the country.  Our continued commitment to Indigenous filmmakers is reflected in our five-point action plan:

  1. Indigenous Stream: Telefilm created an Indigenous Stream in 2017, increasing the feature film production and development financing made available for creators from Canadian Indigenous communities to $4 million annually.  If Indigenous creators choose to submit their work to the regular production and development streams, this investment is counted beyond the $4 million.
  2. Advisory Committees with Indigenous Representation: Projects identified as Indigenous, and that want to compete in this stream, will be assessed by an advisory committee having representation from Indigenous film professionals. 
  3. Engage with Indigenous peoples:  Telefilm actively consults with Indigenous creators through the Indigenous Working Group which is comprised of creators from Indigenous communities across Canada. Additionally, Telefilm created a position dedicated to overseeing the Indigenous Stream and supporting Indigenous creators – i.e. Lead, Indigenous Initiatives.  This position is based in our Toronto office.  
  4. Supporting the Conversation and Increasing Visibility of Talent:
    • Conversation: Telefilm continues to support critical research and activities that address the gaps and challenges of Indigenous creators (e.g. Pathways and Protocols).
    • Visibility and Talent Showcasing:  Telefilm continues to support festivals and initiatives across the country that showcase and support Indigenous talent. In addition, our Communications’ team ensures that Indigenous voices are included in marketing and PR efforts whenever possible.
  5. Indigenous Screen Office: Telefilm is a supporter of this office and will continue to back this important enterprise via financing and administrative support.

Funding for Indigenous Creators: 

INDIGENOUS STREAM OF THE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM 

This financing stream supports the development of scripts from Indigenous writers and producers. Applicants must be incorporated Indigenous companies with some experience. Currently, Indigenous production companies may apply through this stream for up to $25.000 in development funding for one feature film project.  

For more information, please read the most recent version of the guidelines and the Essential Information Guide on the Development Program webpage. 

INDIGENOUS STREAM OF THE PRODUCTION PROGRAM 

The Indigenous Stream of the Production Program supports the production of Indigenous projects with budgets above $250,000.  

Applicant companies applying for funding under this Stream will have to show that: 

  • At least 51% of the project’s copyright (or 100%, if there is only one Applicant company) is held by a production company majority-owned and controlled by Indigenous persons  
  • The project is under the creative, financial and distribution control of Indigenous persons 
  • Two thirds of the key creative team members (producer(s), director(s) and screenwriter(s)) are Indigenous 

For more information, please read the most recent version of the guidelines and the Essential Information Guide on the Production Program webpage. 

INDIGENOUS STREAM OF THE THEATRICAL DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM 

The Indigenous Stream of the Documentary Program supports the production of Indigenous documentary projects with budgets above $400,000.  

Applicant companies applying for funding under this Stream will have to show that: 

  • At least 51% of the project’s copyright (or 100%, if there is only one Applicant company) is held by a production company majority-owned and controlled by Indigenous persons  
  • The project is under the creative, financial and distribution control of Indigenous persons 
  • Two thirds of the key creative team members (producer(s), director(s) and screenwriter(s)) are Indigenous 

For more information, please read the most recent version of the guidelines and the Essential Information Guide on the Theatrical Documentary Program webpage. 

TALENT TO WATCH: FILMMAKER APPLY-DIRECT STREAM AND INDIGENOUS COMPONENT OF THE INDUSTRY PARTNER STREAM  

The Talent to Watch Program helps first-time feature filmmakers finance their microbudget project (budget ranging between $150,000 and $500,000).  

FILMMAKER APPLY-DIRECT STREAM 

Under this stream, emerging filmmakers who are: Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, Women, Gender-diverse and 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, Persons with disabilities and/or members of Official Language Minority Communities will be able to submit an application directly to Telefilm. 

Eligibility 

  • All members of the key creative team must be Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, Women, Gender-diverse, 2SLGBTQ2+, Persons with disabilities and/or members of an Official Language Minority Community.  
  • Key members of the creative teams of all submitted projects must be emerging talent: they must have previously produced, directed and/or written at least one short film, but cannot have previously held the same key position in a feature-length film. 

Application Process  

Applicants who are eligible to this stream can submit an application directly to Telefilm via Dialogue by the deadline specified on the Program Webpage. 

INDIGENOUS COMPONENT OF THE INDUSTRY PARTNER STREAM  

Eligibility 

  • All key members of the project’s creative team (producer, writer and director) must be Indigenous. 
  • Key members of the creative teams of all submitted projects must be emerging talent: they must have previously produced, directed and/or written at least one short film, but cannot have previously held the same key position in a feature-length film. 
  • Recommendation from a partner organization: financing is given to projects chosen from those recommended by designated industry partners for each component of the Program. 

Application Process 

  • Eligible Applicants submit proposals to their designated partner. 
  • Designated partners must submit their recommendation to Telefilm through Dialogue by the deadline specified on Telefilm’s website. 
  • With the assistance of an advisory committee, Telefilm reviews the recommended projects submitted by designated partners. 

For more information, please read the most recent version of the guidelines and the Essential Information Guide on the Talent to Watch Program webpage. 

Decision-Making  Process 

Projects submitted to the Indigenous Streams of in the Development and, Production Programs as well as projects submitted to the Indigenous Component of the Industry Partner Stream of the Talent to Watch Program are evaluated by advisory committees  with Indigenous representation.  

Community Engagement Plans, Remote Region Allocation, Capacity Building Allocation 

  • Production, Development, Talent to Watch and Documentary – The Community Engagement document is an opportunity for the filmmaking team to demonstrate a plan for how they will responsibly engage with any  communities that will be impacted by the project 
  • Production only – Applicants planning on shooting in remote locations may submit a detailed rationale (max. two pages) for why the project requires additional funding. Additional costs incurred due to the remoteness should be clearly identified. Telefilm’s definition of a remote location can be found in the Essential Information Guide for the Production Program.  
  • Production only- Applicants may apply for funding for initiatives that build capacity. Proposals must outline the details of the capacity-building initiative, including: 
    • Goals, intent, and measurable outcomes. (one-page max) 
    • Additional costs incurred for the capacity-building initiative. 
    • Detailed plan and schedule of the capacity-building initiative. 

Contact person

If you are applying to the Indigenous stream for the first time or have questions about the Indigenous advisory committee process, please contact Telefilm’s Lead, Indigenous Initiatives at Adriana.chartrand@telefilm.ca .

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