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CMF Renews Early-Stage Development Program


The Canada Media Fund has renewed the Early-Stage Development Program for 2020/21, with $1.25 million allocated for English-language projects and $400,000 for French ones. A maximum of $40,000 will be allocated to individual successful projects. This program continues to be determined and administered wholly by the CMF. This is what we’ve learned so far.

Changes to the 2020 Program
The Early-Stage Development Program (ESDP) will no longer have two access points. The Creator-Collaborator Access Point has been spun into the Predevelopment Program for producers, and the ESDP is now solely available for writers, like the Writer Access Point was in 2019. Other notable changes include:

  • The 2020 program will not be first-come, first-served and is moving to a juried format. Currently, the CMF has not provided full details on the jury process, so far noting that applicants will be required to submit a pitch document. Specifics regarding the document are expected to follow when the CMF makes full application materials available.
  • The 10-hour written by requirement for eligibility is still in effect. However, now at least two of those hours must have been originally broadcast no earlier than January 1, 2016. The 10 hours must still be in the same genre as the project you’re submitting, with one exception — hours earned in Drama and Children & Youth may now be combined to meet the 10-hour threshold.
  • There is now a Diversity of Voices component, in which a minimum of 15% of the ESDP budget will be reserved for applicants who identify as Indigenous or visible minorities and have at least five credits (not hours) of produced written work in any of the CMF’s supported genres that has been broadcast or made available on a CMF-eligible Canadian Broadcaster. The five-credit requirement replaces the 10-hour requirement for these applicants.
  • Writers who received ESDP funding in 2019-2020 will not be eligible to apply to the program in 2020-2021.

Application Details and Deadlines
Eligible costs for the ESDP projects remain the same as those outlined in 2019, and include writing, story editing, research and some travel.

The deadline for applications is Oct. 15, 2020. Guidelines for the program have been posted HERE. However, full application details and documents are not yet available from the CMF. We will alert you when they are.

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