EXCLUSIVE: New Metric Media, the Canadian production company behind hit Hulu comedy Letterkenny, is set to launch an U.S. division and has set up a trio of projects that it will take out to networks and streaming services.
The company, which is also behind mob drama Bad Blood, is launching an LA office later this year with founder and President Mark Montefiore heading up the unit.
It is developing a Nashville-set drama based on criminologist Dr. Michael Arntfield’s book Monster City and a series of crime thrillers based on the books of Peter Edwards, who wrote Bad Blood: The End of Honour, as well as Nobody Cares, a comedy about anxiety in an online world from Canadian writer Anne T. Donahue.
Monster City follows the true account of a number of serial killers, who terrorized Nashville’s music scene for over three decades. It focuses on the cold-case Murder Squad determined to bring an end to the sadistic killing sprees of The Motel Killer, The Fast Food Killer and The Rest Stop Killer. Arntfield is attached to consult on the project, which is based on his Little A-published book.
New Metric Media has optioned a number of Edwards’ books and hopes to create a “universe” of TV shows. Books included in the deal are biker stories Unrepentant: The Strange and (Sometimes) Terrible Life of Lorne Campbell, Satan’s Choice and Hells Angels Biker and The Bandido Massacre: A True Story of Bikers, Brotherhood, and Betrayal as well as The Wolfpack, about the Canadian gang, which will be published by Penguin Random House this year. Montefiore called Edwards a “vault of crime information”.
Nobody Cares is a frank, funny personal essay collection by Donahue. The memoir about work, failure, friendship, and the messy business of being alive in your twenties and thirties also tackles the subject of mental health. The book, which is published by ECW Publishing, is now being developed as a comedy. Montefiore said that it is a “millennial” story. “It’s a bit YA to early 20s. It’s about the coping mechanisms of dealing with today’s society and the pressures of social media and the expectations put on everybody. Anne’s voice is unique but accessible.”
Montefiore launched New Metric Media after producing feature film Cas & Dylan, which starred Richard Dreyfuss and Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany and was directed by Jason Priestley. He told Deadline that the company was set up to produce premium scripted drama and comedy. The company’s first big hit was Letterkenny, a comedy set in a small rural Canadian community featuring hicks, skids and hockey players. Montefiore picked up the rights to the project after it began as a series of YouTube videos and subsequently adapted it for television with Bell Media’s digital platform CraveTV. After its first three seasons, which totalled 33 episodes, Bell handed NMM a three season order of 75 episodes, giving the company the volume to sell internationally. It airs on Hulu in the U.S.
Montefiore said that he sees Letterkenny as more than just a TV brand. It features a live tour and extensive merchandising. “We were seeing that we were selling merch internationally before we’d even sold the show. We’d sold merchandise to all 50 States including Alaska and Hawaii before the show was even legally available in the U.S.” This includes its own beer – Puppers Premium Lager. He joked, “The liquor business is the only business that is more complicated than television.”
In addition to religious comedy What Would Sal Do?, which is set for a second season after being delayed as a result of SuperChannel’s bankruptcy issues, the company makes mob drama Bad Blood. The latter was originally commissioned by CityTV and FX Canada, airs on Netflix internationally and is distributed by Sky Vision. It stars Sons of Anarchy’s Kim Coates, Without a Trace’s Anthony Lapaglia and Goodfellas’ Paul Sorvino.
Montefiore hopes that the success of Letterkenny and Bad Blood will offer opportunities in the U.S. “I’ve been spending more and more time in the US and even the Canadians we’re working with are based more in LA. The ambition and the projects that we want to do are difficult to pull together through the Canadian system. I’m looking to LA for the next phase of our company’s life. I want to replicate the model that I started with in Canada by putting the right people in place from development and infrastructure stand point.”
He said that it is now searching for talent to work with on these development projects. “The next step is finding the creators and the vision to create the series and build a package before we bring it to networks.”
Arntfield is repped by Sohrab Merchant at The Characters, Grace Freedson at Grace Freedson’s Publishing Network and Danny Webber at Hall Webber LLP. Edwards is repped by Juliet Forrester from Top Left Entertainment and Premier Artists’ Management. Donahue is repped by Addison Duffy at UTA and Carly Watters at PS Literary.