National Film Board Markets Online Media at MIP

Canada's public filmmaker is showcasing 14 interactive productions in Cannes for content or format licensing.

TORONTO – Having pushed the boundaries of Canadian interactive media, the National Film Board of Canada is now rolling the dice on a new business model for online productions.

  Canada’s public filmmaker is at MIPDoc and MIP-TV this week with its own interactive productions available for content and format licensing.

  NFB president Tom Perlmutter said he’s targeting international broadcasters lost in the woods as they search for next-generation story-telling and relationships for the digital age.

  “They’re trying to figure out how to get a piece of the digital pie,” or face oblivion, he insisted.

  But the NFB, having produced award-winning interactive media like Highrise/Out My Window recently licensed to SBS Australia’s website, is seeing the forest for the trees, Perlmutter added.   

  Christina Rogers, NFB’s head of sales and audience development, said interactive productions are available through straight licenses, or as formats where the NFB tailors interactive media for a broadcaster’s local needs.

  The NFB is mostly offering two-year licenses, territorial exclusivity, and on occasion demands geo-restricting.

  Interactive media from the NFB in its visuals, text and audio is geared strictly for the Internet, and is no TV extension.

  Examples include Highrise/Out My Window, Katerina Cizek’s online vignettes of high-rise apartment dwellers in 13 international cities nominated for an international digital Emmy,  and The Test Tube, a twitter-driven project featuring Canadian celebrity scientist David Suzuki acquired by Planet Green for its websites and

  The interactive media, produced with Canadian government subsidies, is already available on the NFB’s Canadian website.

  So why would an international broadcaster license content the NFB is already giving away for free?

  NFB senior producer Gerry Flahive said international broadcasters are acquiring the content or format rights to NFB content to distinguish themselves in a cluttered digital space.

  “In Australia, you won’t google the NFB, but you’re looking at the SBS Australia website,” Flahive argued.

  So the Australian broadcaster acquired the NFB’s Highrise/Out My Window interactive production, with its 360 panoramas and non-linear story-telling, to boost its transmedia credentials.

  Flahive insists the NFB has found ways to create trail-blazing online product not based on a TV property or on a film.

  “That’s a conceptual leap for a lot of people in the industry,” he insisted.

  It’s about creating online productions from scratch, he added. “There’s no ambition to make a film. We’re not saying we wish we had more money. This is an incredible opportunity to reinvent story-telling.”

  In all, the NFB is showcasing 14 of its interactive productions in Cannes.