Telefilm Canada says it wants to offer big money to small projects. The federal agency is introducing a pilot program that would give emerging filmmakers as much as $120,000 to make so-called "micro-budget" movies.
The fund targets low-budget ventures that cost less than $250,000 and are designed for various digital platforms. It would launch this summer.
Executive director Carolle Brabant revealed the plan Friday at the Prime Time in Ottawa conference, a national networking event for film, television, broadcasting and telecommunications industries. She also announced a second fund that would support both emerging and established filmmakers and give tax-receipts to individual and corporate donors who want to back Canuck filmmakers.
Documentary maker Peter Raymont says it's something many producers have wanted to see for a long time.
"There's a lot of people in Canada who care about art and culture and filmmaking and would like to be able to support it and receive a tax receipt," said Raymont, one of Telefilm's consultants on the plan.
Still, the director had qualms about the fund, noting he'd prefer it if donors could put their money into a particular film rather than donate to a slate of Telefilm titles. He suggested that allowing for targeted donations would elicit greater private investment, pointing to the experience he had recently completing a feature-length documentary about painter Tom Thomson.
Raymont says private donors provided almost one third of the $1 million budget for West Wind.
"I think a lot of the success we had raising money for the Tom Thomson film was because people care about Tom Thomson and his art and they knew my work and they trusted me," said Raymont, whose other films include Shake Hands With the Devil.
Raymont also worried that public funding would diminish if the private sector stepped up its investments through the fund, which is supported by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Once up and running, Telefilm estimates the fund could be endowed with an annual budget of $5 million. It comes into effect immediately.
Meanwhile, the micro-budget program targets young directors and producers who have short films under their belt and are poised to release their first feature-length film.
Telefilm says it hopes to support between eight and 10 projects per year, through grants between $100,000 and $120,000. The program will be endowed with an annual budget of $1 million.