On June 27, emerging talent, industry guests, and other storytellers gathered to celebrate the big reveal of this year’s projects selected under the new Talent to Watch Program (formerly the Micro-Budget Program)! The event was hosted by Telefilm Canada and co-hosted by the Talent Fund and Bell Media at Pinewood Studios in Toronto.

The program’s mission is simple: help support the next generation of Canadian content creators and build the future of Canadian film. As announced during the event, 45 projects have been selected for financing through this year’s redesigned Talent to Watch Program and we’re proud to share that these 38 features and seven narrative web projects represent both English and French languages and come from emerging talent all over Canada!

(Check out this video for more about the announcement. For a list of recipients, visit our website here.)

“It feels to me very special to be here as you are about to embark on the most special and greatest journey there can be: storytelling,” said internationally-acclaimed director, writer and producer Xavier Dolan during his speech. “Filmmaking is a risk and you are all here tonight to take it. That is incredible… A first film is a shameless act of self-discovery and self-display.  It’s a way to insist on the value and the worth of your very own existence and the worth of our desire to solve problems and change the world. It’s perhaps naïve and flawed, but it’s true. So good luck to you.”

Certainly, for passionate storytellers, even those with degrees and experience, building a career within the audiovisual industry is no easy feat. This program is designed to help give those talented creators that break needed to move to the next level of their career. 

The redesigned Talent to Watch Program, supported 15 projects last year. This year’s exciting leap to 45, explained Jean-Claude Mahé, Acting Executive Director, Telefilm Canada, in a Telefilm press release, is due to the “extraordinary contribution of the film schools, co-ops, and festivals, our program designated partners.” These designated partners collaborated with Telefilm Canada to identify their alumni ready to compete for a place in this program. This year Telefilm also worked with peer juries from across Canada and representative of our cultural, regional and linguistic communities to select the successful projects. The event brought out past finalists of the program to encourage and inspire the 2018 teams.

“I was asked what has the Talent Fund meant to me and to my career and I can confidently say that it’s the difference of me have a career and not having one,” said Molly McGlynn during her speech. “I’m totally transformed by this experience and the opportunity of making Mary Goes Round.” (This was her first feature and was supported by Telefilm’s Micro-Budget Production Program.) “I’m very proud of the film and I’ve been launched into a career that I didn’t know I could have five years ago and I will forever be indebted to this experience and to the Talent Fund.”

The Talent to Watch Program’s support of diversity in its selected projects is equally important. In this article by Randall King of the Winnipeg Free Press, Jordan Molaro, a Winnipeg-based filmmaker who is among the recipients of this year’s Talent to Watch Program, is quoted as saying that, “Talent to Watch trains diverse individuals from a range of communities, the LGBT community, the First Nation/Métis and those storytellers that haven’t been given the same opportunities as the rest of Canada. In this article, King writes that Molaro is an Anishinaabe filmmaker who also educates First Nations youth. (For more, read his article.)

Talent to Watch trains diverse individuals from a range of communities, the LGBT community, the First Nation/Métis and those storytellers that haven’t been given the same opportunities as the rest of Canada

Key to the success of this program is the Talent Fund, a private donation fund, whose principal partners include Bell Media and Corus Entertainment, as well as numerous corporate and individual donors. Québecor has recently become a Talent Fund partner as well.

As the Talent To Watch Program’s webpage explains in detail, this program essentially “supports the production, digital distribution and promotion of a first feature-length film,” and, as we can see by the seven selected narrative web projects, it also supports “other formats of narrative-based audiovisual content made specifically for online distribution.”

Congratulations to all our recipients and a big thank you to all Talent to Watch Program’s donors, organizers, and supporters!