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Government Subsidies: Canada's Advantage in Transmedia Franchise Development

Media guru Jeff Gomez says Canadians are number one when it comes to supporting indie producers telling stories across a range of digital platforms.

TORONTO – It shouldn’t surprise us.

Canada pioneered film tax credits and official co-productions that U.S. states and other foreign locales have then embraced to increase their own film and TV production.

Now Canadians apparently lead the world with another vision: domestic producers creating global transmedia franchises, and nudged along by generous government subsidies.

“My feeling is Canada is ahead, in the number one position, simply with regard to the fact that funding and other incentives are being furnished to projects that are required to be spread across multiple media platforms,” said Starlight Runner president and CEO Jeff Gomez, who has produced transmedia projects for Disney, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Mattel.

Speaking after attending the Merging Media conference in Vancouver, Gomez said Canadian industry policy makers and funders are doing more than jumpstarting Ottawa’s dream of local producers making and marketing transmedia content for the world market.

“The funding organizations and institutions, as well as the Canadian government, have very wisely begun to encourage film and TV producers to produce across multiple media platforms,” he insisted.

The result is Canadian consumers of media content, already heavily wired with computers, mobile phones and tablets, are increasingly comfortable with the possibilities of transmedia storytelling across different platforms.

Holding back the Canadian industry are indie producers moving from specialties in film or TV to making content for more than one platform.

“The shift in mentality for many has not quite arrived,” Gomez said.

So he and other transmedia specialists are frequently brought north by the Canadian government to consult with local transmedia producers.

Meanwhile, Canadian producers also receive a leg-up with generous subsidies for transmedia projects, whether from the Canada Media Fund, the National Film Board of Canada, industry funds and angel investors.

“It’s amazing, because five years ago, none of that existed,” Gomez said, pointing to what he regards as a paradigm shift in Canadian media.

He added Canadian players like Cookie Jar Entertainment, Corus Entertainment and Rainmaker Entertainment are creating transmedia product for export worldwide.

“You have an number of world class companies in Canada that are generating entertainment that is appealing to young people all over the planet,” Gomez said.