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. What funding programs do you offer?
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.
2. What are the maximum amounts that I can apply for?
Slate Development: a non-interest-bearing advance of 75% of eligible costs up to a maximum of $100,000, repayable from production financing.
Webdocs Development: a non-repayable grant of 75% of the eligible costs up to a maximum of $100,000.
Short-Form Digital Series: a non-repayable grant of 75% of the costs of production up to a maximum of $150,000. Producer must submit a Discoverability Plan that will be evaluated alongside the series, and provided the series receives funding, producers can receive up to $50,000 towards the implementation of the Discoverability Plan based on an approved budget.
3. How do I apply for funding?
Applications (including required documents) for all programs are submitted online in the Bell Fund’s Online Application Portal.
4. What are the deadlines for new programs?
Short-Form Digital Video Series (Scripted Non-Fiction) – November 13, 2017
Slate and Webdocs Development – February 5, 2018
Short-form digital video series (scripted fiction) – May 7, 2018
TV Series – May 7, 2018
5. Do I need a licence agreement? What if I’m just starting out and I don’t have one?
Licensing requirements vary by program:
Slate Development: No broadcast license or development agreement is required, but the applicant is required to provide evidence of market interest at application. Evidence of market interest can include but is not limited to 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 if it’s sufficient evidence of market interest.
Webdocs Development: No broadcast licence or development agreement is required, but the applicant is required to provide a letter of market interest at application from a Canadian CRTC-licensed broadcaster, a platform accessible to Canadians, or a Canadian distributor. Bell Fund in its sole discretion shall if it’s sufficient evidence of market interest.
Short-Form Digital Series: At time of application, producer must have one of the following:
(To qualify as a short-form digital series, the programming cannot be broadcast before 12 months after its initial launch on a digital platform)
6. Are VOD’s Eligible?
Only Hybrid VOD’s are eligible. Currently there are two in Canada – Club Illico & Crave TV. They are accessible to Canadians directly through a subscription service. Other licensed VOD services provided as part of a BDU subscription (Broadcaster Distribution Undertakings) (e.g. Rogers On Demand, Bell Fibe on Demand, Telus Optik, Videotron) are not available to all Canadians, are not exclusively online platforms and are therefore ineligible.
7. What makes a YouTube/Social Media channel eligible?
The digital platform must be appropriate for your content and it must be a place where Canadians would look for short form digital series. If the digital platform is a channel on YouTube, eligible channels include those that enter into agreements to distribute third party content or those who have YouTube channels with a substantial existing subscriber base. (The Fund reserves the right to determine acceptability).
8. For the Short-Form Digital Video Series Program, what are you looking for in a Discoverability plan?
Evaluation of the discoverability plan will take place alongside evaluation of the application. If the application is approved for funding, theProducer may be eligible to receive up to $50,000 towards the implementation of the Discoverability Plan based on an approved budget. Where required, the Producer will demonstrate how the Discoverability Plan, when implemented, will help enhance the project, as well as attracting an audience and/or engaging with fans. Eligible costs include social media content generation, social media advertising campaigns, online community management, digital teasers and trailers and supporting video content. Production costs for non–programming content must be separately identified in the budget to allow Bell Fund to report on those costs. A good overview of discoverability can be found here. Submitting a discoverability plan is a mandatory application component, even if your project is to be featured on a broadcaster’s website. The Discoverability Plan is intended to be an initiative that is separate from the marketing and promotional activities done traditionally within a production budget. For example, costs already committed by the broadcaster/platform as part of the production budget of the project (ex: press kits, publicist, ad buys, advertising, one sheets) may not be included in the discoverability plan. There are many digital media marketing & social media marketing companies that specialize in Discoverability that can provide more guidance. You must ensure that your content is being discovered on other platforms, in order for it to be widely seen. A separate and distinct discoverability budget must be submitted and the discoverability plan can be up to a maximum of ten pages.
9. What genres are eligible for the Short-Form Digital Video series program?
For the Short-Form Digital Series (Fiction Scripted), eligible genres of programming include drama, comedy and 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 is not limited to science, history, art, religion), documentaries and lifestyle programming (including cooking, decorating, finance, real estate), provided that each program is scripted and is being produced to be part of an ongoing series.
10. Is my ‘how-to’ video eligible for the Short-Form Digital Video Series program (scripted non-fiction)?
Ineligible content includes content that is primarily vlogs, user-generated content, including but not limited to content such as product review videos, how-to-videos, advice, tutorials, gaming videos, unboxing videos or other forms of unscripted programming. We do not fund talking heads or news & info content. If in doubt, please contact the Bell Fund to determine eligibility before applying. Eligible genres of non-fiction programming include factual (which is commonly understood to include, but is not limited to, science, history, art, religion), documentary and lifestyle programming (which is commonly understood to include, but is not limited to, cooking, decorating, finance and real estate), provided that each program is scripted and is being produced to be part of an ongoing series.
11. Must my Short-Form Digital Video Series be scripted? What is the definition of scripted?
Yes, the Short Form Digital Series program requires that the content be scripted. As part of your application package, we ask that you submit a script for one of the episodes of your digital video series. While non-fiction programming is sometimes referred to as unscripted, it is more often at least partially scripted, staged and edited for story. The script does not need to be word for word – think of it as more of a detailed blueprint for your story.
12. How good does my teaser need to be for the Short-Form Digital Series application?
The teaser must be a maximum of one minute and should be professional quality. Please note that this is a competitive fund and we are looking for quality premium content.
13. What constitutes an eligible online platform for my digital video series? Does it need to be Canadian?
Below is a list of eligible digital platforms. According to CAVCO, the platform does not necessarily have to be Canadian, but must be accessible to Canadians. This refers to “a service where Canadians would likely look for linear audio-visual content, as opposed to a service primarily intended for foreign territories.” The fund reserves the right to determine the acceptability of the service.
Canadian broadcaster-owned digital platform or Hybrid VOD service: licensed to operate by the CRTC and/or hybrid video-on-demand service (ex. aptn.ca, CTV GO, tva.ca). There are two certified Hybrid VOD services currently in Canada – Club Illico & Crave TV.
Digital platform accessible to Canadians (Canadian or foreign-owned): includes but 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).
14.Would Telus Optik, Rogers on Demand, Bell Fibe on Demand or Videotron qualify as eligible online platforms?
These VOD services are not eligible because they are licensed VOD service provided as part of a BDU subscription (Broadcaster Distribution Undertakings). Unlike Hybrid VOD services, they are not available to all Canadians and are not exclusively online platforms.
15. What kind of agreement do you need from my platform? Can it be a deal memo or letter of commitment?
A commitment letter may be sufficient at application. However, a fully executed long-form licence agreement is required within 90 days of receiving notice of a successful application.
16. Do the digital platforms have to contribute additional funding towards the project?
This is a competitive fund and while there is no requirement for a cash contribution, the Short-Form Digital Series assessment criteria includes the “level of support provided by the platform.”
17. When will the portal open for the Short-Form Digital Video Series deadlines?
The portal opened on October 18, 2017 for the Scripted Non-Fiction stream and approximately March, 2018 for the Scripted Fiction stream.
18. What do you mean by Slate Development?
The purpose of the Slate Development 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 (“IP”). Preference will therefore be given to applications that support multiple projects (no more than three), which can be multi-platform. At least one of the programs must be an audio-visual project. Please note that feature films, MOW’s and repurposed content is ineligible.
19. Is there a minimum or maximum number of projects for the Slate Development program?
Preference will be given to those applications that have three projects. While a minimum of one may be eligible, it is not preferable and will not be entitled to up to $100,000.
20. Are training and equipment eligible costs for Slate Development?
Budgets may include some reasonable amount of training and equipment. For example, a company wanting to try out a new VR technique may require some specialized training. It is not meant to include professional development or corporate training.
21. When do Slate Development projects need to be delivered?
Timelines will be assessed based on the deliverables. However, the expectation is that the projects will be delivered within a maximum 24 months.
22. Will there be reporting requirements for Slate development?
Within the first six months, the Producer is required to send in a report on the state of development for each project. Thereafter the producer and the Bell Fund will agree on a schedule of deliverables and reporting.
23. How do I amortize costs with up to three projects in the Slate Development program?
It is expected that you’ll need to do three budgets with three related finance plans, as well as a separate amortized summary sheet to show amortized costs across all projects.
24.Is a Discoverability Plan needed for Slate Development?
A Discoverability Plan is not a required document in your application. However, we do encourage producers to think about how to identify and build an audience for the content being developed. It is possible that a Discoverability Plan would be an outcome of development.
25. If evaluators think market interest is too low for one of my three slate projects, even if it’s high for the other two, will my application be unsuccessful?
Not necessarily – the evaluators may choose to fund two of your three slate programs.
26. When will the portal open for the Slate Development deadline & when is the application deadline?
The portal is planned to open on December 19, 2017 for the Slate Development program. The deadline is February 5, 2018.
27. What does the Webdocs Development program entail?
The purpose of Webdocs Development is to support the development of original digital non-fiction content through the integration of interactive digital technologies and platforms. 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. Users will navigate through and interact with the components of the project autonomously. A webdoc can also include traditional video elements.
28. Where can I find an example of aWebdoc?
29. What stage should I be in when I apply for Webdocs funding?
It is expected that projects will be in an advanced stage of development, as this funding is intended to assist Producers in developing a prototype (if applicable), and creating the supporting documentation required to attract production financing.
30. The Bell Fund’s Webdocs Development Program offers development grants, but where can I get Webdocs production financing?
The program is being launched as a two-year pilot program. We will be assessing the success of the development program to determine whether there is sufficient market interest and benefit to the Industry to support production financing. We encourage Producers to research other public and private funds.
31. When will the portal open for the Webdocs Development deadline and when is the application deadline?
The portal is planned to open on December 19, 2017 for the Webdocs Development program. The application deadline is February 5, 2018.
32. Is there a limit to the number of applications I can submit?
There’s no limit to the number of applications you can submit to most of our programs, with the exception of Slate Development. Given the limited funds available, a company comprised of and/or exercising control over, several production companies is only entitled to one application per deadline.
33. 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 three 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.
34. Am I allowed to have digital media components in my project?
The Bell Fund’s current programs are primarily intended to support audiovisual content. There are opportunities to include digital media components (non-programming digital content) within the Slate and Webdocs development programs as well as the Discoverability Plan for the Short-Form Video series.
35. Do you have any programs for feature films?
Not at this time.
36. Are there production programs for the two development programs (Webdocs & Slate)?
Certain projects developed through our Slate program could potentially feed into our Short-Form Digital Series program. Funding for Webdocs is currently only available for development.
37. 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.
38. 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.
39. What is an independent producer?
The Bell Fund is using the following definition of independent producer:
40. What is a Canadian production company?
A Canadian production company:
41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. 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.
46. 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 a minimum of six points out of ten for Canadian content. Please note that what’s eligible to us may not be eligible to CAVCO. The onus is on the applicant to verify eligibility.
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. One individual may hold multiple roles.
47. 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.
48. When do I find out if my application was successful?
Best efforts will be made to announce funding decisions six to ten weeks after the application deadline.
49. Do I need to budget for a review engagement or an audit?
It depends on the budget of the project:
50. 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.).
51. 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.
52. Can the 10% third-party commitment be crowd-sourced?
Yes, but you would have to have the crowd-sourced funding secured at the time of application.
53. Can I use tax credits for my 10% third party commitmentfor Short-Form Digital Series?
At the time of application, the producer will provide evidence that that at least 10% of the budget is financed in cash by a third party. Tax credits constitute a third-party contribution. The onus is on the applicant to verify the eligibility of the production.
54. Can I use tax credits for the additional 25% of my digital series financing, not covered by the grant?
If eligible, up to 90% of eligible anticipated tax credits may be used to finance the project and be included in the financial structure. However, Bell Fund does not obligate Producers to use tax credits as part of a project’s financial structure. If tax credits are used to finance the project, a schedule calculating tax credits used in the financial structure must be submitted with the application.
55. I want to use tax credits to help finance my short-form digital series. What should I do? What kind ofdocumentation do I need in my application?
Consult CAVCO’s list of eligible platforms and contact CAVCO if you have questions. For application to Bell Fund’s Short-Form Digital Series Program, your requirements depend on your platform. Further, if you wish to use tax credits to finance the required “10% 3rd party” you need to show evidence AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION that you can secure the tax credits
You have a licence or commitment letter from a crtc licensed, broadcaster-owned, digital platform or hybrid VOD service.
(1) Licence Agreement or Commitment Letter between the series producer and the platform.
(2) Tax credit calculations (of which you may apply 90% to financing.
You have a licence or commitment letter from a digital platform that is accessible to Canadians, Canadian or Foreign owned, and it is on the list of Cavco approved platforms.
(1) Agreement between Canadian distributor and the series producer,
(2) Agreement between Canadian distributor and the platform or if platform doesn’t give agreements the agreement between distributor and producer indicating a commitment to make the program available on an acceptable platform within 12 months of completion.
(3) Tax credit calculations (of which they may apply 90% to financing).
You have a licence or commitment letter from a digital platform accessible to Canadians (Canadian or foreign owned and) it is NOT on the list of the Cavco approved platforms.
(1) Agreement between Canadian distributor and the series producer,
(2) Agreement between Canadian distributor and the platform or if platform doesn’t give agreements the agreement between distributor and producer indicating a commitment to make the program available onan acceptable platform within 12 months of completion.
(3) Tax credit calculations (of which they may apply 90% to financing).
(4) A letter from CAVCO indicating that the platform is eligible for tax credits.
You only have an agreement with a Canadian Distributor with a commitment to make the program available on a platform within 12 months of completion of series production.
(1) Agreement between Canadian distributor and the series producer to make series available on acceptable digital platform within 12 months of completion of series production.
(2) Tax credit calculations (of which they may apply 90% to financing)
If project is recommended for funding the applicant would then have 3 months in which to supply the following:
(3) Confirmation of acceptable platform.
(4) If the platform is not on the list of CAVCO approved platforms, a letter from CAVCO indicating that the platform is eligible for tax credits.
You have requested a waiver from obtaining a licence agreement or commitment letter at time of application.
Please supply the following:
(1)Tax credit calculations (of which they may apply 90% to financing)
Appropriateness of tax credit will be assessed.
For all productions being shown exclusively on an online platform, the CPTC applicant must in all cases provide its agreement with the Canadian distributor as well as the duly executed exhibition agreement between the distributor and the online service showing the production. For clarity, it is not sufficient to submit a website link to a production, in lieu of providing an exhibition agreement.
56. In the guidelines, it says that broadcast-affiliated production companies can only access up to 25% of the available funds in a program. Does this refer to the grant amount I will receive based on my request amount or to the total that you will be distributing in funds, across the program?
This refers to our internal budget. We can only award up to 25% of our funds to broadcast affiliated production companies.
57. Can deferrals be used to finance the Producer’s 25%?
Financing must include 10% third party cash > In addition the balance may be financed, for example, by a combination of deferrals/producer investment (providing it’s reasonable) or other sources (such as other funds).
58. 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.
59. When does Errors and Omissions coverage need to start? What other insurance do I need? Forhow 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.
60. My project was approved but I’ve had changes such as key personnel, project scope, platform, etc. Will my funds be rescinded?
The Fund’s expectation is that the project will be carried out as outlined in the application, which was formally approved and accepted by the Bell Fund Board of Directors. If there are any changes, please contact The Bell Fund as soon as possible for approval/discussion.
61. Are all target audiences eligible?
Yes, there are no restrictions on the target audience.
62. I already started principal photography. Can I still apply?
No. Principle photography cannot have begun prior to the application deadline.
63. I am requesting a waiver from obtaining alicence Do I include the costs for my completed episode in my project budget?
No – costs incurred prior to the application are not eligible.
64. How do I know if I’m eligible for a waiver?
Giving out waivers is not our first choice. It only happens in exceptional situations, so our advice is not to ask for it unless you have confirmed that you meet all of the assessment criteria. To start, you would need to have financing available to produce an episode, the ability to demonstrate the completion and commercialization of at least one other original A/V programming project for an online platform and an ability to execute and commercialize the concept (if required, retention of outside expertise, experience in delivering and commercializing a project). We’ll be looking at applications in their totality to see if you meet the bars.
65. 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. The Bell Fund in its sole discretion shall determine sufficient evidence of market interest.
66. Can market interest refer to the popularity of an influencer?
It can include that, but it should also include a letter of interest, seed money, a broadcaster, platform or digital publisher. Popularity is not enough to make a project viable.
67. What if I don’t have a letter of market interest?
See the guidelines for requirements for your specific program. In general, unless you can provide sufficient audience research and/or audience analytics that affirms the intended audience to the Bell Fund, your application is ineligible.
68. Do I need to give the Bell Fund a credit?
Yes – a credit must be given on all versions and copies of the content on all platforms, and on all publicity and promotional materials under the Producer’s control relating to the project. The credit should be worded as “Produced with the participation of the Bell Fund”.
69. Where are the Bell Fund credit logos?
The Bell Fund credit logos can be found online here.
70. If I receive a grant, when do I receive the first drawdown and what is the drawdown schedule?
For each of the programs, there will be a drawdown schedule provided in the agreement
71. Is VR (virtual reality) eligible?
Yes, it is. We don’t support interactive digital media, but we consider VR audio visual material, so it is eligible for submission.
72. Can a company apply to multiple streams at the same time?
Yes, the number of applications you submit is unlimited, with the exception of our Slate Development program. Given the limited funds available, a Company comprised of and/or exercising common control over, several production companies is only entitled to one application per deadline.
73. I am a not-for-profit. Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, a Canadian production company must be for-profit in order to be eligible. The guidelines break down what we mean by a “company” and go on to describe an “independent producer.”
74. Is Discoverability a separate grant program?
No, you cannot submit a Discoverability plan without a corresponding application. When we ask for a Discoverability plan, we consider it as part of a larger application package. In some cases, receiving a grant can unlock access to additional discoverability funds. For more information on Discoverability, please see the project guidelines.