Important Note :
Applicants need to ensure that the application and all of the related materials meet the eligibility criteria before applying. This is a competitive fund where the total number of applications will be greater than the funds available.
1. How do I apply for funding?
Applications (including required documents) for all programs are submitted online in the Bell Fund’s Online Application Portal.
2. What funding programs do you have?
In 2017, the Bell Fund will launch the following funding programs in order to implement the CRTC’s Revised Policy Framework for Certified Independent Funds. The Bell Fund is now launching three pilot programs (2 Development, 1 Production), with another to come in 2018.
Slate Development: The purpose of this program is to help independent production companies diversify their development slate both in terms of numbers of projects and variety of platforms and media by offering financial support for the planning and development of original intellectual property. Full program description can be found in the guidelines, accessed here.
Webdocs Development: The purpose of the program is to support the development of original digital non-fiction. Such content is primarily designed to inform but may also educate and entertain, providing an in-depth critical analysis of a specific subject or point of view through the integration of interactive digital technologies and platforms. Users will navigate through and interact with the components of the project autonomously. A webdoc could include traditional video elements. Full program description can be found in the guidelines, accessed here.
Short-Form Digital Series: Funds original digital video series for online distribution, and specifically the production of scripted fiction (drama, comedy, and children’s and youth programming) and scripted non-fiction (i.e. documentary and lifestyle/factual programming). Full program description can be found in the guidelines, accessed here.
3. Why did the Bell Fund retire its previous programs?
In 2017, in order to implement the CRTC’s Revised Policy Framework for Certified Independent Funds, the Bell Fund retired its convergent production and development programs, as well as its performance accelerator and TV Development Online programs.
The Bell Fund is now launching four pilot programs with another to come in 2018, intended to support the Canadian media production industry in the production and discoverability of audio visual programming content as defined by the CRTC.
4. What are the deadlines for new programs?
Short-form digital video series (scripted non-fiction) – November 13, 2017
Slate and Webdoc development – February 1, 2018
Short-form digital video series (scripted fiction) – May 7, 2018
TV Series – May 7, 2018
5. When will the portal open for the first deadline?
The portal will be open Oct 16, 2017 for the short-program digital series (scripted – non-fiction)
6. Does it matter what province or territory I’m from?
No, provided that the applicant is Canadian and meets all of the other eligibility criteria.
7. Do I apply to the Toronto or the Montreal office?
This is determined by the language used when completing the application in the Online Application Portal. Generally, Francophone projects will be handled by the Montreal office.
8. Who is eligible for funding?
Eligible applicants are Canadian production companies and independent producers. Complete definitions can be found below, or in the program guidelines.
9. What is an independent producer?
The Bell Fund is using the following definition of independent producer:
10. What is a Canadian production company?
A Canadian production company:
11. What is a broadcaster- affiliated production company?
A broadcaster-affiliated production company is defined as a production company in which a television licensee owns or controls, directly or indirectly, no more than 30% of the equity.
12. What is a co-production?
The CRTC defines a co-production as an audiovisual work produced jointly by a Canadian producer and a producer from a foreign country with which Canada has a co-production treaty administered by Telefilm Canada. The production must be produced in accordance with terms and conditions of the treaty.
13. What is a co-venture?
The CRTC defines a co-venture as an international co-production which is not included under any of the treaties administered by Telefilm Canada. These include all ventures with co-producers of foreign countries that either do not have a film or television production treaty with Canada, or if there is a treaty, the co-production is not specifically covered by the treaty.
14. What are CAVCO Certification Points and how many do I need for my production?
To qualify for funding from the Bell Fund, short-form digital video series production must achieve six points out of ten for Canadian content certification and eight out of ten for tv series production.
To certify a program as Canadian, the production is assessed on a ten-point scale. Points are accorded for the number of Canadians fulfilling key creative roles. For the majority of productions, points are granted for the Director (2), Screenwriter (2), Lead Performer (1), Second Lead Performer (1), Production Designer (1), Director of Photography (1), Music Composer (1) and Picture Editor (1).
More information can be found here.
15. Do I need a licence agreement?
Licensing requirements vary by program:
Slate Development: No broadcast license or development agreement is required, but applicant is required to provide evidence of market interest at application.
Webdocs Development: No broadcast licence or development agreement is required, but applicant is required to provide evidence of market interest at application.
Short-Form Digital Series: At time of application, producer must have one of the following:
16. Does my platform have to be Canadian?
The platform does not have to be Canadian – digital platforms accessible to Canadians are eligible under these new programs. Digital platforms accessible to Canadians (Canadian or foreign-owned): includes but are not limited to AVOD (advertising-based video on demand, ex. Crackle), TVOD (transactional video on demand, ex. iTunes Canada), SVOD services (subscription video on demand, ex. ICI Tou.tv Amazon Prime Canada, Netflix Canada), or social media platforms (ex. YouTube or Facebook).
17. I’m just starting out and do not yet have a licence agreement. Can I still apply?
For Slate Development and Webdoc Development the demonstration of market interest at time of application may be sufficient.
For Short-Form Digital Series , the Bell Fund, at its sole discretion, may consider waiving this requirement subject to the applicant being able to provide some or all of the following additional requirements to the Bell Fund for review and assessment of eligibility at the time of application: one completed episode up to a maximum of seven minutes; ability to demonstrate the completion and commercialization of at least one other original audio-visual programming project for an online platform; an ability to execute and commercialize the concept (i.e. if required, retention of outside expertise that are experienced in delivering and commercializing the project).
18. What kind of agreement do you need from my platform? Can it be a deal memo or letter of commitment?
A fully executed long-form licence agreement is required within 90 days of receiving notice of a successful application. In some cases and at the Fund’s discretion, a commitment letter may be sufficient.
19. I’m having difficulty uploading my application documents.
In many cases, the reason for failure to upload is that the document title is too long or contains symbols ($, #, &). If you’ve tried both of the above and still cannot upload, please contact the Bell Fund directly.
20. How do I fill in the related party transactions page in my budget? What costs are internal vs. external costs? What are related costs?
“Related parties” exist when one party has the ability to exercise, directly or indirectly, control, joint control or significant influence over the other. Two or more parties are related when they are subject to common control, joint or common significant influence. Related parties also include management and immediate families.
A “related party transaction” is a transfer of economic resources or obligations between related parties, or the provision of services by one party to a related party, regardless of whether any consideration is exchanged. The parties to the transaction are related prior to the transaction. All such transactions also require verifiable documentation such as dockets and timesheets for personnel from all such parties including senior personnel associated with parent or related companies who are charged against the budget. For clarification purposes, when the relationship arises as a result of the transaction, the transaction is not one between related parties.
All line items and respective amounts from the budget paid to Related Parties to the Producer such as principals, management and immediate family must be itemized and disclosed on the appropriate tab of the Budget Template. All purchase and rental of equipment, facilities and material and capital purchases directly or indirectly paid for or obtained by the Producer and costed in the budget must also be declared.
Internal costs are those incurred by the applicant (production company), while external costs are not costs related to the applicant company (may include service providers, etc.).
21. Is my project eligible for tax credits?
Please contact your applicable provincial and or federal agency to make this determination.
22. What are non-Canadian costs?
Non-Canadian costs refer to any costs incurred outside Canada. The expectation is that all budget costs will be spent in Canada and on Canadians. Up to 25% of the budget may be spent on non-Canadian costs provided that the Producer can establish the need for the non-Canadian costs. Producer will prepare the Non-Canadian Costs Declaration within the Budget Template for any and all non-Canadian labour services and/or products.
23. When does Errors and Omissions coverage need to start? What other insurance do I need? For how long must I keep insurance on my project?
The Producer shall, in accordance with customary industry practice, obtain and maintain in effect as long as is necessary insurance policies (including but not limited to, third party liability, property damage and loss) in connection with the production of the content, which insurance policies shall name Bell Fund as a co-insured or additional insured. A waiver may be requested.
23. When does Errors and Omissions coverage need to start?What other insurance do I need?For how long must I keep insurance on my project?
The Producer shall, in accordance with customary industry practice, obtain and maintain in effect as long as is necessary insurance policies (including but not limited to, third party liability, property damage and loss) in connection with the production of the content, which insurance policies shall name Bell Fund as a co-insured or additional insured. A waiver may be requested .
24. Who do you consider the producer of the project?
The Bell Fund’s definition of the producer role requires the following: is directly responsible for the financial and creative control of the production, is the central decision maker, must own, option or control (including the underlying rights to the program) the rights sufficient to produce and exploit the program throughout the world.
25. Must my digital video series be scripted? What is the definition of scripted?
Yes, the Short Form Digital Series program requires that the content be scripted. We are looking for premium content. While non-fiction programming is sometimes referred to as unscripted, it is more often at least partially scripted, staged and edited for story .
Ineligible content includes content that is primarily vlogs, user-generated content such as product reviews, advice, tutorials, gaming videos and unboxing videos.
26. What genres are eligible?
For the Short-Form Digital Series (Fiction Scripted), eligible genres of programming include drama, comedy, children and youth programming excluding animation. For the Short-Form Digital Series (Non-Fiction Scripted), eligible genres of programming include factual (commonly understood to include but not limited to science, history, art, religion), documentaries and lifestyle programming (including cooking, decorating, finance, real estate).
27. Are all target audiences eligible?
Yes, there are no restrictions on the target audience.
28. I already started principal photography. Can I still apply?
No. Principle photography cannot have begun prior to the application deadline.
29. I am requesting a waiver from obtaining a licence agreement. Do I include the costs for my completed episode in my project budget?
No – costs incurred prior to the application are not eligible.
30. Do I need a 10% third-party cash commitment?
In the case of the Slate Development and Short-Form Digital Series programs, a 10% third-party cash commitment is required at time of application.
31. What is market interest?
The Bell Fund defines ‘market interest’ as a letter of interest from a Canadian CRTC-licensed broadcaster, a platform accessible to Canadians, a distributor and/or sufficient audience research and/or audience analytics that affirms the intended audience, as Bell Fund in its sole discretion shall determine is sufficient evidence of market interest.
32. What if I don’t have a letter of market interest?
Unless you can provide sufficient audience research and/or audience analytics that affirms the intended audience to the Bell Fund, your application is ineligible