EXCLUSIVE: Schitt’s Creek has become the show to emulate when it comes to Canadian producers looking to find success outside of the Great White North.
Starting as a small comedy on Canadian public broadcaster, it has become a huge hit in the U.S. and around the world after launching on Pop TV and subsequently Netflix and stands a good chance at this weekend’s Emmys. It is one of a handful of Canadian shows, along with the likes of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol, to become as successful as any comedy south of the border.
Now, a government-backed scheme has identified six Canadian producers with projects that they hope to replicate this success.
The Canadian Creative Accelerator, which is backed by the Trade Commissioner Service of the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles and the Government of Quebec, has highlighted six shows that will receive help and money to break out in the States.
In addition to training and access to financing, the shows will receive mentorship from Los Angeles-based advisors at the start of October with the hope of selling their show in the U.S. This list was put together by a group that included Schitt’s Creek producer Andrew Barnsley, manager Leslie Conliffe, who represents the likes of The 100 writer Miranda Kwok, MRC SVP Amit Dey, who previously worked at Universal Pictures, PEN15 producer Vera Santamaria, Tonya Williams, founder of the Reelworld Film Festival and WarnerMedia’s Melanie Nepinak Hadley.
Story Shape Entertainment, run by Supinder Wraich and Matt Power, are developing drama The 410. The show follows Suri, an Indian blonde and wannabe influencer, who, desperate to hold onto the family she has left comes face-to-face with the criminal underworld that operates inside her seemingly quiet suburban community.
Screen Siren Pictures, with producer Trish Dolman, and Marie Clements Media, are developing a four-part Indigenous psychological drama, Bones of Crows. Written and directed by Marie Clements (Red Snow), the show follows Cree Matriarch Aline Spears, who is confronted by her traumatic past as she embarks on a classified mission in World War II realizing the secrets long buried in her are a shared one.
Oya Media Group, with producers Alison Duke and Ngardy Conteh George, are developing a half-hour comedy series about toxic masculinity. Detox, created by Roberta Munroe, follows Rafik Johnson, who wants to heal the world from the patriarchy by dismantling toxic masculinity – one bear hug at a time, whether you want one or not.
On the kids’ side, hoping to emulate Paw Patrol, Vérité Films and Corner Gas executive producer Virginia Thompson are developing children’s animated comedy-musical-adventure series Jeremy Fisher Junior and Friends, which stars musicians Jeremy Fisher and Aiza Ntibarikure, and celebrates the joy and diversity of music and encourages positive mental health and well-being.
Groupe PVP, with producer François Trudel, is developing animated kids’ show Cosmo the Dodo, which follows the last of his kind on Earth as he travels across the universe with a lost spaceship and three zany aliens, hoping to find other dodos like him. Along the way, he gets very busy protecting stunning creatures and their amazing biodiversity from harm.
Finally, The Beaverton producer Pier 21 Films is developing a half-hour comedy but refused to disclose details.
Each of these projects have development agreements with Canadian networks and across the six projects, five have a Black, Indigenous or Person of Color as the producer, director, writer, lead actor, or a combination of those elements.
“This class proves that the pool of Canadian creative talent is deep and diverse and ready to extend the run of great shows coming out of Canada, whether you’re talking about award winning comedies like Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience, new hit dramas like Transplant and Coroner, or huge children’s franchises like Paw Patrol,” said Consul General Zaib Shaikh. “The media and entertainment industries, and the jobs that come from them, are a powerful source of economy for Canada and of great global value to our U.S. partners. Our congratulations and best wishes to this first cohort of producers and projects in the CCA, and we’re excited to help them achieve next-level success here in the U.S. and beyond.”