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TORONTO — The Canadian Film Centre, in its role as matchmaker, is on the verge of launching a story department in which Canadian and British writers
collaborate on TV drama scripts with global appeal.
The ambitious Canada-UK Script Incubation Program, a workshop between the BBC, BBC Worldwide and Canadian broadcaster Shaw Media, aims at high-concept series structured as international co-productions.
“There’s a momentum finally behind this program. The teams are close to being chosen. We’re very much in synch with the BBC,” says Christine Shipton, vp
original content at Shaw Media.
It took all of 2010 for Shaw Media and the BBC to get on the same page for joint drama production. The script incubator will move away from the traditional Canadian industry model for a TV drama, where Hollywood decides what will dominate Canadian primetime schedules.
“We’re looking for another model, where we can come up with something smart and sexy that works in both places, where we have a creative voice and
where we’re not just the people providing post and production services,” Canadian TV scribe Denis McGrath says.
Nowadays, struggling Canadian indie producers routinely trade virtually all creative control of homegrown dramas in return for $200,000 to $300,000 per episode from a U.S. network. Headaches and hurdles are an unfortunately part of the deal too.
McGrath insists the Canada-UK Script incubator will allow Canadian TV producers to turn their gaze from Los Angeles and marry their talents with London while retaining creative control.
Kathryn Emslie, CFC director of films and TV programs, agrees the global drama lab is breaking ground as it looks to have projects selected and in
motion by the end of April.
“We’re not about to rehash what’s already been done. We’re looking to do a new international co-production,” she says.
At stake, she adds, is coming up with TV dramas that will work for the BBC, BBC Worldwide and Shaw Media.
“This is not just an exercise. This is really about a creative and business exchange that will result in real projects, real shows,” Emslie says.
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