CMF launched their 2020-2021 guidelines and announced their budget on April 1st. The overall CMF budget is down about $600K from last year and is now $353 million. As the CMF’s budget is based on projected revenue, this may end up being reduced over the coming year but that is the budget that they are working with. The CMF did warn in their announcement that guidelines might have to change to respond to the economy so IO will monitor the situation.
Experimental is down slightly from $32.250 million (English) to $29 million. However, this is due to a reorganization of what programs are included within Experimental. The CMF Kids Digital Program is no longer included but the Accelerator Program is. It is important to note that the Innovation and Commercialization streams are now allocated equally within the Experimental Program.
Applicants to all programs are ‘encouraged’ to read the Indigenous Protocols and Pathways. This is relevant to IDM producers who includes Indigenous stories or characters in their work.
Eligibility now includes being in good standing with unions and guilds. Unions and guilds declare a producer an ‘unfair engager’ if they default in their obligations and they are therefore unable to engage that union’s members until the default is fixed. As IDM producers are increasingly using ACTRA members for voice over, motion capture and/or audio-visual performance they should keep in mind that any default would impact their ability to apply to CMF on future projects.
This is the final year of the Marketing and Promotion program, which was only available as a transition for those funded in Production in previous years, now that marketing and promotion are eligible production costs.
Deadlines for Innovation and Commercial are now harmonized, which should encourage applicants to apply to the most relevant fund for their projects. Both will have deadlines in May and September.
40% of Conceptualization is allocated to Regional Productions to encourage new regional applicants at this start-up stage.
Regional is defined as:
Head office is in the region (no satellite offices)
Regional applicant initiates and is meaningfully involved in the production and owns at least 51%
More than 150km from Toronto (for English) or Montreal (for French).
This was felt to be necessary because in recent years there has been a drop in overall productions funded by the Experimental Program from the regions. IO will monitor the impact of this initiative on Ontario-based Conceptualization projects.
The Innovation program is now called Innovation and Experimentation to better reflect the intention to encourage experimentation in storytelling and/or technology.
This is reflected more particularly in the Evaluation Grid where Innovation is 60% (up from 45%), Financial Viability is down from 20% to 10%, and Marketing is down from 20% to 10%. In contrast, for the Commercial program, Commercial Success is 45% and Marketing is 40%. Innovation now has the same recoupment policy as Commercial so there is no longer an incentive to apply to Innovation to access a better recoupment policy. As IO has requested many times, there is finally a clear difference between the two programs.
There have been no changes to the Convergent Fund that stimulate IDM funding or act as incentives for broadcasters to invest. IO remains very concerned about the reduction of CMF funds dedicated to Interactive Digital Media projects over the last
few years, due to prior changes to the Convergent Fund. IO will continue to lobby CMF in this regard.
That being said, we reiterate the message that we hear from the IDM industry repeatedly. We are grateful for the existence of the CMF Experimental Fund as it has been instrumental to the growth of the IDM industry in Canada and its positioning worldwide. We appreciate the ongoing dialogue that we have with CMF re. continually improving the Fund, as well as the dedication of the CMF staff.