First UK-Canadian Co-Production Programme for Immersive Storytelling Launches
UK and Canadian artists, filmmakers and creators to become future leaders in immersive storytelling backed by funding support
London/Toronto, Wednesday August 5, 2020 - A new immersive talent development and co-production fund for UK and Canadian artists, filmmakers and creators is set to launch with its first cohort in November 2020. It is the first exchange programme dedicated to immersive storytelling between the UK and Canada, and will have a total co-production fund of CAD $510,000 (£300,000) on offer. The programme, which is now open for applications until 17 September, will establish international collaborations to pioneer new forms of immersive storytelling by bringing together a wealth of backgrounds and experiences from theatre, performing and visual arts, games, TV, film, and other forms of digital and interactive media. Click here to apply.
The year-long programme is supported by a newly formed international collaboration between StoryFutures Academy (run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London), Arts Council England, the Canada Media Fund, The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab) and the Canada Council for the Arts.
“We’re delighted to come together with such a strong group of Canadian and UK partners,” said Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, Canada Media Fund. “The wealth of talent and innovative approaches to storytelling by creators on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the cultural ties that bind our two countries, will no doubt lead to the creation of new immersive experiences and narrative forms that push the limits of art and technology. We look forward to seeing stimulating talent exchanges develop, followed by the coproduction of content that will continue to blur the geographic and creative boundaries of immersive storytelling.”
The UK-Canada Immersive Exchange, which commences in November, will support and champion an international cohort of artists, filmmakers and creators from Canada and the UK, aiming to be future leaders of immersive storytelling. They will work with emerging technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). Mentors and experts from across the UK and Canadian creative landscape will support the programme, including those highly skilled in brokering international co-productions.
A total of 24 creatives will be selected to participate, comprising six ‘Creative Leads’ and six ‘Creative Producers’ from each country. Creative Leads will be a mixture of artists, filmmakers, theatre directors and visionaries who can drive the creative direction of a project, while Producers, who will be representing creative companies with a track record in immersive production, will bring the business skills and immersive production experience needed to make these projects a reality. The programme will then provide the cohort with creative development opportunities, business and sector specific knowledge, understanding of a new international market, key industry contacts, and an opportunity to apply for a dedicated fund to support the collaborative international co-productions. All participants will receive a fixed Development Grant of CAD $3,400 (£2,000) to contribute towards their time spent on the initial ‘talent development’ stage of the programme. In the latter stage, the participants can pitch for co-production financing, with a total fund of CAD $510,000 (£300,000) available between the countries. This will fund a mixture of projects between CAD $42,500 (£25,000) and CAD $170,000 (£100,000). The programme will conclude with final projects delivered by November 1, 2021.
Rebecca Gregory-Clarke, Head of Immersive, StoryFutures Academy: the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling said:
“We are thrilled to launch this programme with such a fantastic group of international partners. It’s crucially important to ensure the UK works internationally and builds cross-cultural collaborations that will benefit both Canada and the UK, enabling us to stay at the forefront of immersive innovation. The UK-Canada Immersive Exchange has been created to lower the barrier to entry for exciting creative partnerships across borders. We know from our experience at StoryFutures Academy that immersive storytelling projects have brilliant creative visionaries, as well as savvy producers who can adapt their approach to work with partners from all corners of the creative landscape. We can’t wait to convene this wealth of outstanding talent from both countries and see what they create together.”
Francis Runacres, Executive Director, Enterprise and Innovation, Arts Council England said:
“The lockdowns taking place across the globe have shown the power of technology to create new artistic experiences outside traditional cultural spaces. International collaboration ensures that the best ideas from the worlds of art and technology can be spread as widely as possible, and is essential to driving progress in this emerging field, so we’re delighted to be investing in this programme with our UK and Canadian partners.”
CFC Media Lab said:
"This international partnership between the UK and Canada marks an important first step in the further development of original, groundbreaking immersive media work in both countries," said Nataly De Monte, Associate Director of CFC Media Lab. "As we move towards smart, embedded virtualization layers on top of our world, it is the creative process of experimenting and prototyping narrative forms, along with human interaction with mixed reality, that will lead the way forward for other industries. That's why creative programs like this are so vital and best when shared with international perspectives.”
Carolyn Warren, Director General, Arts Granting, Canada Council for the Arts said:
“The Canada Council for the Arts is excited to partner on this digital initiative that will bring together creators with diverse backgrounds and practices from Canada and the United Kingdom at such a critical time. By collaborating on new forms of immersive storytelling, these creators will have the power to unite and inspire audiences around the world—making a vital contribution in these unprecedented times.”
Applicants are encouraged to apply now for the UK-Canadian Immersive Exchange at immersive-exchange.com. The deadline for applications is Thursday September 17, 2020 at 12 pm EDT / 5pm BST. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme will run sessions remotely. Pending the lifting of travel and working restrictions in 2021, opportunities for in-person workshops and exchanges to Canada or the UK will be explored.
The programme was founded following an international immersive research and innovation symposium and cultural exchange organized by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Canada Media Fund’s CFC Media Lab (CMF).
The programme marks the first international co-production for StoryFutures Academy, a UKRI Audience of the Future funded initiative. Arts Council England has previously developed the accelerator programme CreativeXR, for the creation of immersive experiences, in partnership with Digital Catapult, currently in its third consecutive year with 20 new projects recently announced. CFC Media Lab is a leader in the development of transformational technologies, entertainment and businesses. Since its founding in 1997, CFC Media Lab has produced or collaborated on dozens of groundbreaking interactive digital media properties, and accelerated dozens of digital media and entertainment companies.
About Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, promotes, develops and finances the production of Canadian content and relevant applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment through fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through industry and private sector partnerships. To learn more, please visit cmf-fmc.ca.
About the Canadian Film Centre
The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is a registered charity and a leading cultural organization for the development and advancement of Canadian creative and entrepreneurial talent in the screen-based industries. CFC’s programs and initiatives span film and television, screen acting, composing and songwriting for the screen, and digital and immersive media. These uniquely designed programs support and empower Canadian artists, creators and entrepreneurs, and generate world-class talent, content, products and companies for the global marketplace.
The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab) is an internationally acclaimed production think tank, training institute and business accelerator that supports hundreds of emerging digital content creators, practitioners, entrepreneurs and companies. It offers programs and initiatives that provide visionary leadership and extensive expertise in strategy, product, business, finance, and ethics needed by Canadians involved in the digital revolution, including an innovative suite of programs focused on intersectional feminist business practices.
About Canada Council for the Arts
The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder.
The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments contribute to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene that reaches across Canada and abroad. The Council’s investments foster greater engagement in the arts among Canadians and international audiences.
About StoryFutures Academy
StoryFutures Academy is the UK's National Centre for Immersive Storytelling run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London. Funded as part of UK Research and Innovation’s Audience of the Future industrial strategy challenge fund, the Academy develops cutting-edge creative training and research programmes, to ensure the UK creative workforce is the most skilled in the world in the use of VR, AR and MR for immersive storytelling.
Alumni of StoryFutures Academy labs have so far included Oscar and BAFTA winning Director Asif Kapadia, Oscar Winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin, Turner Prize winning conceptual artist Gillian Wearing OBE, and Channel 4 Documentaries Commissioning Editor Fozia Khan.
Over £500,000 has been invested in UK immersive production, across co-productions with BBC3, and Production Booster and Kickstart development funding. The award-winning VR Documentary 'Common Ground' was the first ever funded co-production, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in early 2019. 'Violence’, an artistic collaboration between film director Shola Amoo (The Last Tree) and producer Eleanor Whitley (Marshmallow Laser Feast), had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, as part of the Cannes XR Virtual at the Marché du film de Cannes, held online and in virtual reality, in June 2020.
About Arts Council England
Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. By 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help deliver this vision.
Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council has developed a £160 million emergency response package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19.
Media relations contact:
Canada Media Fund