Special Call Guidelines

To download a pdf of these guidelines click HERE

The TELUS Fund is renewing its special call for English language web series ideas targeted to Canadians caring for someone living with a health condition (“caregivers”). More than 8M Canadians are estimated to be providing unpaid care for loved ones. In the next 30 years the number is expected to double.

The Fund is looking for stories, well told, that will engage our emotions and have the potential to change the way we think and feel about providing care. These stories may also share knowledge in entertaining ways, build empathy for better health care and social policies, and drive family and friends to available resources and communities of support.

Since the inception of the Special Call in 2017, seven web series have been made possible with financing from TELUS Fund and showcased through the Stories for Caregivers program created by The Coup Company. These entertaining and engaging series have been featured nationally in media outlets and have achieved more than 9 million views to date:

Together we are telling stories with the potential to positively impact families and friends providing care for loved ones struggling with a health condition.

1. How the special call works

STAGE 1 – Create a pilot episode

Eligible Applicants are invited to submit their web series ideas by October 18, 2021. Short-listed web series ideas will receive DEVELOPMENT FUNDING to create a pilot episode and advance their project plans.

Development funding decisions will be announced during the week of November 22, 2021.

STAGE 2 – Produce the web series

Eligible Applicants that have completed a pilot episode submit their application for Production Funding by February 14, 2022. Pilot episodes will be published online for community feedback for one week during the month of February 2022. Short-listed pilot episodes will receive financing to create at least 7 additional episodes and promotion materials.

Production funding decisions will be announced during the week of March 21, 2022. Successful web series will premiere in August 2022 via the Stories for Caregivers program.

In order to be eligible for funding, successful Applicants must enter into a licensing agreement with S4C Media Inc. Once completed, the pilots and web series will enjoy a 6-month exclusive premiere on the Stories for Caregivers website, YouTube channel, and related social media channels which are accessible to audiences worldwide.

2. Eligible applicants

Eligible Applicants are companies that are:

  • able to demonstrate a successful track record delivering quality content of comparable size and scope,
  • headquartered in Canada,
  • for-profit taxable corporations (within the meaning of Canada’s Income Tax Act),
  • Canadian-controlled (Sections 26 to 28 of the Investment Canada Act), and
  • the owner and controller of all the rights necessary to produce the web series and to distribute and exploit it throughout the world in all manner, languages, and media in perpetuity.

The TELUS Fund has full discretion in the administration of its programs, and the application of these program guidelines to ensure funding is provided to those projects aligned with the Fund’s mandate. In all questions of interpretation of these program guidelines, the Fund’s interpretation shall prevail. TELUS Fund reserves the right to withdraw, terminate, suspend, cancel, amend, or modify all or part of the program, in any manner, including the amount of funding awarded, at any time and without prior notice, for any reason whatsoever. By participating in this program, Applicants agree to be bound by these guidelines and to abide by all decisions of TELUS Fund which shall be final and binding, without right of appeal, in all matters relating to this program or the granting of funding, including without limitation, eligibility and/or disqualification of submissions.

3. Eligible web series

Eligible web series will be targeted to caregiver audiences in Canada. The caregiving theme may appear prominently in the central storyline or in sub-plots. Scripted and unscripted genres are eligible including for example drama, comedy, lifestyle, magazine, variety, reality, documentary, etc. The web series will also be:

  • produced in the English language,
  • at least 8 related episodes of between three to six minutes in duration per episode,
  • produced in Canada with at least 75% of eligible costs being Canadian costs,
  • closed captioned and contain described video, and
  • earn a minimum of 6 out of 10 points on the Canadian Audiovisual Certification Office scale.

The web series may not:

  • have a specific corporate, industrial or mainly promotional focus.
  • contain elements of excessive violence, sexual violence, or sexual exploitation or elements which are obscene, indecent or child pornography within the meaning of the Criminal Code, or libelous or in any other way unlawful.
  • be in the CRTC Program Categories of News, Reporting and Actualities, and Sports, or
  • be already produced and/or distributed.

4. Financing

Development funding (pilot episode)

The Fund will finance up to 75% of the development budget to a maximum of $5,000 per minute or $25,000 in total, whichever is less. The development budget may include expenses related to creating a pilot episode of two to six minutes in high definition and advancing project plans.

Applicants for development financing must submit the following to the Fund by October 18, 2021:

  • a completed application form,
  • a creative pitch for the series in a maximum of two pages, including a complete synopsis of the series, a typical episode format, and outline of what future episodes might be,
  • a pitch video of up to 60 seconds in length describing who you are, your web series idea, and why the web series will matter to individuals providing care to their loved ones, and
  • written description of the COVID-19 safety protocols that will be undertaken to ensure the health and safety of cast and crew throughout production of the pilot episode.

Applicants will receive a funding decision in the week of November 22, 2021. Successful Applicants will have roughly 11 weeks within which to deliver the pilot episode and an application for production financing.

Production funding (web series)

The Fund will finance up to 75% of the web series production budget to a maximum of $5,000 per minute or $140,000 in total, whichever is less.

Applicants for production financing submit the following to the Fund by February 14, 2022:

  • a completed application form,
  • a pilot episode in high-definition format to be published online for community feedback,
  • production-ready creative materials appropriate for the genre,
  • web series budget, financial structure, and schedule,
  • letter(s) of support obtained from organizations, experts, and/or communities active in the subject area,
  • written confirmation of collaborations with marquee talent, outlining the level and nature of their commitment, and
  • written description of the COVID-19 safety protocols that will be undertaken to ensure the health and safety of cast and crew throughout production of the web series.

Pilot episodes will be published online for community feedback for one week during the month of February 2022. Applicants will receive a funding decision by the week of March 21, 2022. Successful Applicants will have roughly 18 weeks within which to deliver completed episodes of the web series.

Nature of Financing

TELUS Fund’s financing is in the form of a recoupable advance similar in nature to an unsecured, non-interest bearing, forgivable loan. The Fund acquires no right, equity interest or profit participation in the actual production. The financing is not subject to provincial or federal taxes (e.g., QST, PST, HST, GST). Most provincial and federal tax credit programs have determined financing from the Fund to be akin to a grant or subsidy that reduces the eligible tax credit.

Repayment Terms

If the Applicant earns revenue from exploitation of the underlying idea or content produced, the Fund expects to share equitably in revenue earned after the deduction of applicable exploitation fees and expenses. Amounts paid back to the Fund are reinvested into the financing of more exceptional health and wellness content.

5. Evaluation criteria

The TELUS Fund Board of Directors has sole and exclusive responsibility for funding decisions. The Directors evaluate and weigh submissions individually and, in comparison to, others according to the evaluation criteria in the table below. These evaluation criteria are provided as a guide to making a successful submission.

1. Health innovation

  • Demonstrate original and inspiring approaches to the subject matter
  • Influence thinking, challenge routines, enlighten choices
  • Present novel solutions that are more efficient, effective, or just than existing solutions
  • Portray the use of information and technology to improve quality of life

2. Reach and impact

  • Include collaborations with talent, celebrities, influencers and platforms well-known by caregivers and committed to driving reach and engagement of the web series
  • Obtain written support from recognized national, provincial and local expert organizations active in the area confirming the web series demonstrates innovation and has the potential to improve quality of life, and committed to increasing discoverability of the web series within their network
  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of the needs and priorities of caregivers referencing underlying research of distinguished subject matter experts
  • Portray clear, simple, tangible calls to action with the potential to influence positive health choices by caregivers and recipients of care

3. Diversity and representation

  • Are Applicants headquartered more than 150km outside of Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal
  • Are Applicants part of an Official Language Minority Community
  • Are there women, people of colour, and/or individuals identifying as Indigenous in the key roles of Producer, Director, Writer and/or Lead Performer

6. Frequently asked questions

IMPORTANT MILESTONES TO REMEMBER (dates are subject to change)

  • Oct 18, 2021: DEADLINE for development financing applications for Special Call
  • Nov 22, 2021: This week an announcement will be made of applicants to receive development financing to produce a pilot episode
  • Feb 14, 2022: DEADLINE for production financing applications for Special Call and completed pilot episode
  • Feb 21, 2022: Special Call Pilots are published online for audience feedback for 1 week
  • Mar 21, 2022: This week an announcement will be made of applicants to receive production financing to produce full web series
  • Aug 1, 2022: DEADLINE for all outstanding production deliverables, including all series episodes and promotional materials
  • Aug 8, 2022: New web series are published online for public viewing

Is there an application Fee?

No, it’s free to apply

What rights are granted to S4C Media Inc.?

Successful Applicants to this program will grant to S4C Media Inc. (Stories For Caregivers) permission to publish, distribute and exploit the pilot and web series on Stories for Caregivers website, YouTube channel, and related social medial channels that are accessible to audiences worldwide.

The license term will be exclusive to S4C Media Inc. for a period of 6 months and non-exclusive thereafter.

I did not receive development financing. Can I still apply for production financing?

Yes, provided your submission is complete, including a completed pilot episode for the web series.

When can the selected Applicant expect to receive funding?

Generally, 60% of the funding is released by direct deposit into the Applicant’s bank account typically within 10 days of signing a legally enforceable development financing agreement. The final payment of 40% is released upon the Fund’s approval of completed deliverables. The payment schedule for production financing may include additional payments at key milestones dependent on the Project’s cashflow needs.

What if I receive funding and do not complete the deliverables?

You will be considered in default of the financing agreement and required to immediately return all financing received to TELUS Fund. The Fund will charge interest on the repayment amount calculated and payable from the date of the advance. Failure to repay may result in more serious consequences that may include loss of eligibility for funding of future productions, and criminal prosecution in the case of fraud. These consequences may be imposed not only on the Applicant but also on related, associated, and affiliated companies and individuals.

Can I submit multiple ideas?

Yes, there is no limit to the number of applications per Applicant. Every web series idea will require a separate application, pitch video, and required documentation.

Will the Applicant receive fees and corporate overhead from the budget?

Yes. Up to 30% of the below the line production and postproduction sections of the budget may be allocated to Producers Fees and Corporate Overhead. Producers Fees include all persons receiving a producer credit or with an ownership interest in the Applicant or its related companies. Corporate Overhead includes expenses such as rental of corporate space, capital expenditures, core business operations, maintenance costs, office equipment, supplies, administrative staff, membership fees, etc.). Direct costs of labour, goods and services charged by a related party to the Project must correspond to the actual amount paid and supported by T4 slips, employment contracts, time sheets or other sufficient and appropriate supporting documents. All related party amounts must be disclosed to the Fund.

Are option and rights acquisition fees eligible costs?

Yes, provided they are not payable to a person or company related, affiliated, or associated with the Applicant.

Are expenses related to marketing and promotion eligible costs?

The budget must include allowances for the creation of promotional assets listed in the application form and participation of key personnel in the launch campaign.

If the Fund finances 75% of the eligible costs, who covers the rest?

Financing may be available from other funding agencies, deferred cast and crew fees, in kind service contributions, crowd funding, sponsorship financing, loans, etc.

Web series may also be eligible for tax credit programs. Applicants are encouraged to consult these programs before including tax credits within the Project’s financial structure. Many tax credit programs in Canada have determined financing from the Fund to be akin to a grant or subsidy reducing the eligible tax credit.

Do I need to buy insurance for the web series?

Yes, the web series must be protected by all industry-standard insurance policies including for example an Entertainment Package, Commercial General Liability Insurance, and Producer’s Errors and Omissions Liability Insurance in force for a period of one year from initial release. The TELUS Fund is to be named as additional insured on all insurance policies.

Will the final cost report be audited?

While the Applicant is not required to undertake an audit of the final cost report, the Fund reserves the right to audit the Project upon reasonable notice.

Project costs must be directly related to the project and be supported by invoices or other relevant documentation along with proof of payment. The Applicant is responsible for maintaining separate accounts and records throughout the project and for a period of five years. The Fund’s final 40% payment will be released upon approval of deliverables which include a final cost report, supported by an affidavit, and accompanied by explanatory notes for substantive variances from the budget. The Fund’s financing is based in part on its assessment of the budget. Any amounts in the final cost report that the Fund deems ineligible or unreasonable may cause the Fund to adjust the amount of its participation. 

What is a Related Party Amount? (As seen under the Budget section of the application)

Related parties exist when one party has the ability to exercise, directly or indirectly, control, joint control or significant influence over the other. Two or more parties are related when they are subject to common control, joint or common significant influence. Related parties also include management and immediate families. A Related Party Amounts are the costs/fees associated with the related parties. For clarification, when the relationship arises as a result of the production itself, then that relationship is not one between related parties.

Who should I contact with questions?

You will find the answers to other frequently asked questions on the TELUS Fund website here. You can also send an email to hello@storiesforcaregivers.com.

7. Information about caregivers

Applicants are encouraged to begin but not limit their research into this target audience by visiting the following links:

Applicants can find some of the most recent Stories For Caregivers media coverage by visiting the following links:

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