The Toronto Film Festival is increasingly lending its audience and celebrity glitz to independent television producers looking for new small-screen financing models as the era of easy money from broadcasting fades.
“It’s about the whole package. It’s our curatorial seal of approval. It is access to decision makers. It’s access to mentorship, and it’s something you can put on your resume for years to come,” says Geoff Macnaughton, senior director of industry and theater programming. the hollywood reporter.
Macnaughton, which also schedules the primetime run of high-profile TV series at TIFF, is preparing to reveal the lineup for its section’s 2023 edition as the main film festival gets deeper into show premieres. high-level international television shows in front of the cinema audience.
Last year, Primetime’s sidebar showcased seven TV series, including five world premieres, with author Lars von Trier bringing his The exodus from the kingdom series to TIFF, at the same time as it premieres episodes of the fifth season of MGM’s The Handmaid’s Tale and the Allen Hughes FX docuseries Dear Mama.
Macnaughton says the number of international series premieres will grow this year, as will the festival’s TV accelerator program for emerging creators, as TIFF in September seeks to highlight the best of international television and attract independent producers seeking the go-ahead. good of the canadian festival of film buffs and global artists. star power ahead of impending broadcast or streaming releases.
“Doing it well, winning an award at a festival, always helps to recognize the quality of any show”, Joe Lewis, producer of flea bag and Transparent before launching Amplify Pictures in 2018, he THR.
Lewis adds that film festivals that are much more critically and audience-focused than traditional TV markets, like the two MIPs in Cannes, can help forge new ways to finance and produce series as creators look for role models. of distribution most typical of independent cinema.
“It’s a much easier sell than ever before,” Macnaughton says of convincing big-name TV producers to bring in series in development or ready for broadcast or streaming at TIFF, rather than the more consumer-friendly traditional TV markets. industry players.
That’s especially true as major studios and broadcasters are increasingly expected to take less, but better, shifts in TV development as they seek to lower content costs to get closer to broadcast profitability, while also they have to navigate the ongoing Hollywood strikes.
“The current path is, you take a series to a streamer or network and they give you money and they decide. We’re trying to figure out new ways to do it,” Lewis explains, and exposure at film festivals could shed light on that murky future.
TIFF and other major film festivals may allow their Los Angeles-based company to greenlight a series without a distributor or broadcast partner attached, he ventures. And that allows creators and artists to keep more of the skin in the game for produced shows as new funding models are developed for a rapidly evolving global television scene.
For TIFF, the festival can bring its curatorial brand that a film festival has traditionally offered to independent cinema to a television series before most people outside a creator’s immediate circle have seen a show. “It’s a stamp of approval for a series before anyone watches it. That’s when the press will pick it up, or a broadcaster will pick it up if it doesn’t already have distribution,” Macnaughton observes.
Oftentimes, veteran film producers and distributors branching out into TV series will look to TIFF for earlier releases and want the same launch experience for their TV shows. And independent film executives who know the festival circuit well also see the value in bringing a top television series to TIFF.
“I’ve heard of more and more creators working outside of the usual funding system for shows that are creating something they really love and using film festivals to launch that show,” adds Macnaughton.
Rachel Eggebeen, who was recently named Amplify’s chief content officer, is a case in point. “There needs to be a change on the buying side of TV to really create this new market. And that’s where a festival like TIFF and other film festivals could play a role in growing a market for high-end premium acquisitions in the US,” she says. THR.
“American film history changed with film festivals and the notoriety that surrounded them. And we’re excited by the idea that festivals can do the same with television,” adds Lewis.
Lewis suggests that just as an exhibition in galleries and museums can increase the price of art, showing episodes of television in front of audiences at major film festivals can increase the value of a series that would otherwise only be seen. by a few chains or transmitters. executives gathered around a boardroom table or in a cloistered television marketplace.
“Some great TV shows may not have been recognized or even made because they didn’t connect with the public or the audience. A film festival represents an opportunity for the public, the critics and everyone to see shows and help increase the value of the shows and create a really incredible flywheel effect,” argues Lewis.