Learning to tap into a land of opportunity by James Burstall Argonon CEO

by James Burstall CEO Argonon

The Banff World Media Festival, held in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, is the Canadian version of the Edinburgh TV Festival. In fact there is an Edinburgh flavour to the whole proceedings.

There was a buzzy crowd of mostly smart, Canadian TV types and I was struck by just how closely linked their market is to the UK.

We share a lot of the same programmes and there is already significant co-production, with both sides wanting more drama, factual and fact ent formats.

Forgive the generalisation, but the Canadians we met were clever, down to earth and interested in innovation and ideas; plus they were self-deprecating and, crucially, had a great sense of irony.

Argonon attended the festival after investing in a new Vancouver-based company called Remedy Productions Canada, of which Toby Dormer is president. Vancouver has become a vibrant hub for drama (rivalling Los Angeles), special effects, and now lifestyle programming.

And there’s a hunger for programming of all kinds. Toby pitched his slate of original Canadian shows alongside a slate of co-pros with Leopard US president Nick Rigg. They met with considerable success, secured a development deal on the spot and now have various projects to follow up.

There is a history of both British and US companies working with Canadian broadcasters and we predict this is going to grow significantly –hence Argonon’s investment in Canadian talent.

However, there are hoops to jump through. Not any UK production company can work there as you must qualify as a Canadian entity, or work in co-production with one. With that in mind, Remedy Canada is now open for business and will welcome an UK company that wants to partner with it. We will definitely be at Banff again in 2013.