In 2017, Netflix established Netflix Canada. The first permanent production presence outside of the United States, Netflix Canada works directly with Canadian producers, creators, talent and crews.
According to Corie Wright, Netflix's Director of Public Policy, Netflix Canada was established for a simple reason, "Canada has a world-class creative and production community and we really like working with it."
Netflix’s commitment to Canadian content was solidified through a $500 million pledge to original Canadian productions over the next five years.
Hot Docs and Netflix unveiled the Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project, a five-year funding and development initiative for Canadian filmmakers. This project is largely funded through Netflix’s commitment of $25 million dollars to local cultural organizations and events, supporting new and diverse Canadian talent.
In recognition of the systemic barriers that continue to exist within the documentary film industry, the Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project was initiated to create opportunities that support a diversity of perspectives, foster new voices, and make the industry stronger and more sustainable.
In 2018, this 5-year partnership began changing the landscape for underrepresented Canadian documentary creators, creating new opportunities for documentary storytellers who are Indigenous, Francophone, Deaf and/or have a disability, racialized or persons of colour.
Activities have been streamed into three tracks to address barriers to professional and artistic development. They include:
The CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund
Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s vice president of original documentaries and comedy, previously shared; “Netflix and its members around the world are passionate about documentary films and series. We are thrilled to partner with Hot Docs to support Canadian storytellers. This project will promote opportunities for emerging filmmakers, who offer a diversity of perspectives and connect their unique voices to global audiences”.
The centerpiece of the project is the CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund.
Promoting inclusion in the documentary space, this fund fosters storytelling from within groups whose perspectives have been historically underrepresented.
The CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund allocated grants ranging from $10,000-$50,000 for the development, production or post-production of both short and feature length projects.
Over the full 5-year partnership, approximately $1M will be awarded to 25-40 projects. As of February 2020, $310,000 has been directed to 16 projects from 4 provinces, 87% of which are led by a female director.
The Doc Accelerator program focuses on skills training and career advancement with a goal to foster an inclusive new generation of Canadian documentary filmmakers.
Each year, fellows participate in a purpose-designed career development curriculum at the Hot Docs Festival. Filmmakers learn from industry experts, engage in hands-on workshops, and participate in the Festival's full slate of programming and conference activities.
Post-Festival, select fellows are paired with experienced filmmakers from their communities for paid mentorship placements that strengthen both their practical skills and professional network. As of February 2020, $60,000 in work subsidies have been provided through HDCSP to date, kick-starting 20 placements in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. 50 placements will be completed over the course of the partnership.
Doc Ignite labs bring the professional development mandate of HDCSP to communities across the country, providing training for both emerging and experienced creators interested in the commercial documentary marketplace.
Doc Ignite targets priority communities across Canada and provides training tailored to their particular needs. Offering direct market intelligence and skills training, each lab provides filmmakers with professional development curriculums on such topics as audience engagement, marketing and distribution to help them launch sustainable documentary careers.
Labs run throughout the year and have already been implemented in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Lunenburg, Moncton, Montreal, Kamloops, Vancouver and Toronto.
Elizabeth Radshaw, Director of Industry at Hot Docs says “The Canadian Storytellers Project is addressing critical gaps in Canada’s arts sector by offering new provisions for the valuable stories and perspectives of creators whose voices have been historically underrepresented in our country. Funding documentaries, expanding entrepreneurship skills, and creating paid work placements is a gift which would not be possible without unprecedented collaboration from Netflix. Outside of the creators themselves, arts lovers benefit too as program alumni continue to feed into a pipeline while capturing the hearts and minds of audiences across Canada and around the world".
Funding Films - Evolving Talent - Engaging Communities