Telefilm redefines Canadian film success

Telefilm Canada is introducing new guidelines to measure the success of its investment in homegrown films.
Paul Giamatti, left, and Dustin Hoffman are shown in a scene from Barney's Version. (Takashi Seida/Sony Pictures Classics/Associated Press)

Telefilm Canada is introducing new guidelines to measure the success of its investment in homegrown films.

The federal funding agency has relied on Canadian box office success to determine whether filmmakers should get funding, with the stated goal of having Canadian films earn five per cent of domestic receipts.

But achieving five per cent has been an elusive goal. Canadian titles took 3.3 per cent of domestic box office in 2009-10.

At its annual public  meeting held Wednesday in Winnipeg, Telefilm chair Michel Roy announced a new index that will measure the overall success of films.

The new index will take into account award nominations, acclaim received at international festivals, domestic and global box office results, DVD and TV receipts as well as private sector funding when gauging the success of Canadian films.

Roy said the new measurement tool was needed to "reflect the true value of the films we support."

He pointed to the success of 2010's Barney's Version and Incendies. Between them, the pair of movies earned $35 million at the global box office and won 52 prizes at festivals and award shows such as the Genies. The success of the two films cannot be measured by domestic box office alone, Roy argued.

The new success index was developed with the co-operation of the film industry and gives more information about the track record of films than box office alone, he said.

The components considered for the success index:

  • Domestic box office - 40 per cent.
  • Gross domestic and international sales - 20 per cent.
  • Prizes and participation in international festivals - 15 per cent.
  • Awards at national competitions - 15 per cent.
  • Ratio of private to public sector funding - 10 per cent.

Canadian private sector investment and foreign participation in Canadian filmmaking accounted for 26 per cent of total production in 2010—double the amount from the previous year, Roy noted.

That includes 57 international co-productions, representing an injection of $200 million from foreign sources.

In 2010-11, Telefilm supported the production of 48 feature films.