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Black Screen Office Launches Fund in Partnership with Rogers Group of Funds and Canadian Independent Screen Fund for BPOC Creators

New fund helps Canadian Black and People of Colour creators take the pen to tell their own stories

The first-of-its-kind program in Canada provides direct access to script development funding to help to build more equitable access to creators from diverse communities

Creators invited to apply in July – formats, eligibility, and submission details to be announced soon

TORONTO, June 29, 2021 – Canadian Black and People of Colour content creators want to tell their own stories, and a new first-of-its-kind Canadian program will help them do just that.  The Black Screen Office today announced the creation of a new $750,000 script development fund in partnership with Rogers Group of Funds and the Canadian Independent Screen Fund for BPOC Creators, delivered over three years. The fund will support creators through the writing process, from outline to script, to create pitch-ready projects for networks, studios, cable, and streaming platforms.  Applications will be accepted in July and adjudicated in August; successful applicants will be notified in September.

The new fund seeks to address a longstanding imbalance on call sheets and screen credits by  bringing more voices from diverse communities to the creative table and providing a wide range of stories to audiences here and around the world.  According to the Black Screen Office, the Canadian executives and boards heading screen organizations and institutions lack diversity, with few in the position to greenlight shows at Canada’s major networks, which is a critical trigger for most development funding.

And yet, there is a growing appetite for diverse content. This requires levels of funding to develop and produce content with highly competitive production values. The 2020 UCLA Hollywood Diversity report notes that films featuring upwards of 50% minority cast were the best performers in 2019. While the least diverse movies, those with less than 11% minorities,  performed the worst at the box office.  While on-screen diversity is improving on television, great racial disparities still exist in the writers’ room, with less than a quarter  of credited writers representing minorities in the US and far fewer in Canada.

The objective of the new Rogers/Black Screen Office Script Development Fund is to provide Black and People of Colour storytellers with the opportunity to develop scripted or unscripted (documentary) content in English or French for the international market.

Rogers Group of Funds is proud to reinvest a percentage of gross revenues to support the creation of Canadian content. The fund administrator, the Canadian Independent Screen Fund for BPOC Creators (CISF), works with public and private funding organizations to create and administer programs that finance and support projects by Black and People of Colour creators. The CISF (formerly the CIFVF) has an extensive track record managing funding applications and administering grants.

Further details on format criteria, eligibility, deadlines, and a submission portal will be announced in early July.

QUOTES:

“Canadian Black content creators want to tell their own stories. From the beginning of the film and television industries in this country, Black Canadians have struggled to have their stories, beliefs, opinions and identities represented in an industry that really didn’t see us. The Rogers/Black Screen Office Script Development Fund is a meaningful way to bring equity and opportunity to our community and celebrate our voices and unique perspectives.”

Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director, Black Screen Office

“We are incredibly pleased to see Rogers lead the charge to support the BSO with its unprecedented funding commitment to our development program. This is the example of what standing in solidarity with BPOC communities looks like.  Having the CISF as our administrative partner to oversee a fair and transparent jury process is also a win-win for us all!”

Jennifer Holness, Chair, Black Screen Office; Co-Chair, Canadian Independent Screen Fund

“We need to hear stories from Canadian Black and People of Colour content creators – but so many face challenges before they even get to the ‘starting line’ with a pitch. The Rogers/Black Screen Office Script Development Fund will help cut through the red tape so they can focus on what really matters – the power of their story and ultimately connecting with an audience, at home and around the world.”

Robin Mirsky-Daniels, Director, Rogers Group of Funds

About Black Screen Office
The Black Screen Office is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support Black Canadians working throughout the screen industries to build their careers, strengthen their networks, and share their stories. Serving as a unified front for Black Canadians working within screen industries, BSO creates conditions for long-term success by addressing racial equality and inclusivity. Through advocacy, research, and career development programming, BSO will positively impact Canada’s screen sector through its leadership, global awareness and growth as a national organization.

For more information, visit bso-ben.ca.

About Rogers Group of Funds
Since 1980, the Rogers Group of Funds has supported Canada’s independent film and television producers with more than $600 million through three different types of funding. Rogers Telefund offers loans to Canadian independent producers; Rogers Documentary Fund, Canada’s premier source of funding for documentary films; and Rogers Cable Network Fund, an equity investor in Canadian programs with a first play on a Canadian cable channel. Three different types of financing. Three different funds.  All from one source – Rogers. For more information, visit rogersgroupoffunds.com

About Canadian Independent Screen Fund
The CISF for BPOC creators was born out of the former Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund, that ran successfully as an independent fund from 1991 to 2008 and which has been re-imagined as a production fund for Black and racially diverse communities. The Board is comprised of key industry leaders including BIPOC TV & Film, Black Screen Office, Creatives Empowered, BlackWomenFilm! Canada, the National Screen Institute (NSI), Independent Media Producers Association of Creative Talent (IMPACT), Reelworld Screen Institute, Racial Equity Media Collective, and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. 

For more information:
Black Screen Office,  joan@bso-ben.ca, 416-917-8291
Rogers Communications, media@rci.rogers.com, 1-844-226-1338