FAQs – Development Program

Is a stand-alone website or mobile app or web series (without a television program) eligible for funding?

No. The Bell Fund’s specific mandate is to encourage the convergence of traditional broadcasting and digital media production. Therefore all projects MUST have 2 separate components: a television program licensed by a Canadian broadcaster (or in Development with a Canadian broadcaster for if applying to the BF Development Program) as well as an associated digital media project.

What is your definition of “digital media”? Are games eligible?

The Bell Fund supports digital media projects where the content is useable and/or downloadable to: personal computer (via Internet), and/or ITV, and/or mobile phones, tablets and/or other handheld devices.  Games that run on those platforms are eligible.  Physical games for consoles or arcade (ie. Wii, PlayStation, xbox), and Blu-ray/DVD-only content are not eligible for funding.  Digital Media projects that have received funding in the past have included websites, mobile apps, social media extensions, interactive e-books, games (casual, serious, ARG etc.), web docs, webisodes/mobisodes, digital scavenger hunts etc.

Are different companies required to produce the television and digital media projects?

Both components may be produced by the same production company, by two different production companies, or as co-productions. If ownership/rights are shared, it is considered a co-production and both companies are the producers.

Is my project eligible if I have already started principal photography on the television show?

Yes, the development of the digital media component is eligible for funding. Bear in mind that the expectation of the Bell Fund is that the Digital Media project will launch at the same time as the first broadcast of the first episode of the TV project so the development phase should time out to also include the production cycle required.

Can I apply for development and production at the same time?

No.  A project must be fully developed in order to make a proper production application to the Bell Fund.  The purpose of the development fund is to help prepare a project for a production application.  Therefore, the applications must be made at separate deadlines.

What does the average digital media development cost?

There really is no “average” digital media development budget. The Bell Fund will fund up to 75% of the costs of development, to a maximum of $50,000. The projects funded recently in the development phase have been budgeted between $30,000 and $100,000.

How do I fund the other 25% of the digital media budget?

Typical funding scenarios to date include the Bell Fund, sometimes CMF, broadcasters, some provincial agencies, producer investments, and producer deferrals.

How are projects evaluated?

The Bell Fund contracts digital media industry experts to evaluate each of the applications based on a list of criteria. The evaluators then discuss the projects together, prioritize them, and make recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board makes all final decisions.

The evaluation grid is available for review on our website under useful tools.

One of the key evaluation factors is whether there exists a clear need for development, beyond traditional or typical content development in order to demonstrate feasibility when applying for production.

When will I know if I am to receive funding?

Funding decisions are announced 6-8 weeks following the deadline.

What happens after my project is accepted?

You will receive a commitment letter that details the offer of funding, any conditions and any required documentation and budget clarifications. You will have 90 days to provide this information. Once the fund receives this documentation, a draft agreement will be issued for review. Once approved, Bell Fund will issues execution copies to be circulated for signature.

What are the drawdowns?

75% on Execution of the Agreement
25% on delivery and acceptance of required final deliverables

What do I do if my project is rejected? Can I apply again if my project has been rejected?

For projects that are rejected, the Bell Fund provides feedback. You may re-apply provided that the feedback is adequately addressed. In some case this may require significant changes to the project. It is preferred that a cover letter detailing the changes to the project/application is included with any re-submission.

This television series has been supported before by the Bell Fund. Can I apply for subsequent seasons? Do I have to do anything different with the application?

Yes, digital media projects are eligible for funding in second and/or subsequent seasons of production.  It is extremely rare that a digital media project would require development for a subsequent digital media project, in most cases, the project would apply for production. It is expected that new season digital media reflects building on what has been successful for the property in the past.

Can you recommend good digital media production companies?

Have a look at the web sites we have funded (“Funded Projects”) and at our annual reports to see which companies have received funding and which sites reflect a creative sensibility that matches what you are trying to achieve.