OFO at Prime Time

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) hosted its annual Prime Time conference Feb. 1-3, 2023. Held each year in Ottawa at the Westin, this was the first in-person Prime Time since 2020, convening 900 screen-based media and policy leaders in the nation’s capital. It was a prime opportunity to meet new industry professionals, reconnect with others, and learn from some of the brightest minds working in production, distribution, broadcasting, and policy.

The OFO’s primary goal in attending the conference was to meet with Canadian and international producers and others who are interested in investing in Ottawa, either as a production destination or for infrastructure development. A soundstage remains one of the OFO’s main priorities to ensure continued and sustainable growth of the local film and television industry, create new jobs, and position Ottawa as a full-service production centre. Discussions with studio operators are ongoing, but it’s clear that Ottawa is on their radar and that the benefits of expanding to Canada’s capital are undeniable.

Canada Media Fund President & CEO Valerie Creighton introduced the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, who was interviewed by CTV’s Vassy Kapelos

When not meeting new connections or catching up with familiar faces, including the many local industry professionals in attendance, staff attended panels and sessions to hear valuable insight on industry trends impacting the sector. Bill C-11 (the Online Streaming Act) passed in the Senate Feb. 2, the same day Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez took the stage at Prime Time to discuss the act with CTV’s Vassy Kapelos; the full interview is currently streaming on CPAC’s website. Other panels that were especially relevant to the OFO’s work focused on workforce development and sustainability. On the latter point, we were pleased to see the CMPA taking steps to create a more eco-friendly event; for example, digital displays showcasing Canadian productions replaced traditional posters.

Several local productions were on display, including Jam Filled’s award-nominated children’s series Dino Ranch

Lastly, Ottawa Film Commissioner Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos had the opportunity to sit down with development and production executives to learn more about their needs and how local creators can pitch their content. Here’s an overview of what was shared; please reach out to the OFO for contact information for anyone listed below (serious inquiries from Ottawa-based creators/producers only):

Tom Hastings
Head of Original Programming, Canada, Paramount +

  • Looking for pre-buy/acquisitions for feature films
  • Looking for unscripted, niche series in early development where Paramount+ can be involved early in the process
  • Also looking for edgy comedy series with established writers, and drama series, with a preference for 6-part event series

Brad Holcman
Senior Director, Non-Fiction & Alternative Programming, A+E Networks

  • The company is eager to meet creators; they are also looking for a post-production company in Ottawa.

Carlyn Klebuc
General Manager, Original Programming, Bell Media

  • They are looking for softer content, like The Amazing Race Canada, as well as comedy series like Letterkenny
  • Also looking for feature documentaries
  • 4-6 episode limited series are ideal for Crave

Gave Lindo
Head of Content Programming, TikTok

  • TikTok can help creators launch their content and establish their presence in the industry, creators should think of TikTok as a marketing tool.