2020 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, five 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 4M 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 - PILOTS: Eligible Applicants are invited to submit their web series ideas by February 3, 2020. 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 March 16, 2020.

STAGE 2 - SERIES: Completed pilot episodes and applications for PRODUCTION FUNDING towards the creation of seven additional episodes must be submitted by May 18, 2020. Pilot episodes will be published online for community feedback for two weeks at the end of May 2020. Production funding decisions will be announced during the week of June 22, 2020. Successful web series will premiere in November 2020 via the Stories for Caregivers program.

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. These guidelines are subject to change, without notice. Please consult the TELUS Fund website for the latest news and documentation.

2. Eligible applicants

The Fund will receive submissions from companies that are:

  • primarily in the business of producing professional media content,
  • 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),
  • 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, and
  • able to demonstrate a successful track record delivering quality content of comparable size and scope.

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,
  • include a significant contribution from the Canadian independent production sector, and
  • closed captioned and contain described video.

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.

4. Evaluation process

Evaluation criteria will be used to assess applications individually and in comparison, with other submissions. These criteria are not intended to restrict creativity or limit the full discretion of the Board of Directors in rendering funding decisions. These evaluation criteria are provided as a guide to Applicants in making a complete submission.


Health and Wellness Innovation

The Fund will prioritize web series that:

  • 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.

Reach and Impact

The Fund will prioritize web series that:

  • 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.

5. Development funding

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 three to six minutes in high definition and advancing project plans.

Applicants for development financing must submit the following to the Fund by February 3, 2020:

  • A completed application form,
  • A creative pitch for the series in a maximum of two pages, including a complete synopsis of the series, story arc over the season, a typical episode format and outline, etc.
  • 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.

Applicants will receive a funding decision in the week of March 16, 2020. Successful Applicants will have roughly 8 weeks within which to deliver the pilot episode and an application for production financing.

6. Production funding

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 May 18, 2020:

  • 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, celebrities, key influencers, and the like, outlining the level and nature of their commitment.

Pilot episodes will be published online for community feedback for two weeks at the end of May 2020. Applicants will receive a funding decision by the week of June 22, 2020. Successful Applicants will have roughly 16 weeks within which to deliver completed episodes of the web series.

7. Nature of funding

The Fund provides a recoupable advance similar in nature to an unsecured, non-interest bearing loan. The Fund does not acquire an equity interest in the copyright or share in profits generated.

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.

8. Non-exclusive rights

Applicants to TELUS Fund grant permission to publish the pilot episode and web series on the Stories for Caregivers website, YouTube channel and related social media channels accessible to audiences worldwide. This permission is non-exclusive, meaning that the Applicant is not limited in publishing the web series themselves or repurposing the content for transmission on other platforms worldwide, in perpetuity. Furthermore, applicants grant permission to Stories for Caregivers to apply YouTube monetization to the pilot episode and web series towards repayment of the TELUS Fund financing of the Stories for Caregivers platform and marketing costs.

9. Frequently asked questions

IMPORTANT MILESTONES TO REMEMBER (dates other than DEADLINES are subject to change)

  • Feb 3, 2020: DEADLINE for development financing applications for Special Call
  • Mar 16, 2020: This week an announcement will be made of applicants to receive development financing to produce a pilot episode
  • May 18, 2020: DEADLINE for production financing applications for Special Call and completed pilot episode
  • May 25, 2020: Special Call Pilots are published online for audience feedback for 2 weeks
  • Jun 22, 2020: This week an announcement will be made of applicants to receive production financing to produce full web series
  • Oct 26, 2020: DEADLINE for all outstanding production deliverables, including all series episodes and promotional materials
  • Nov 2, 2020: New web series are published online for public viewing


No, it is free to apply.


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.


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


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.


You will be considered in default of the financing agreement and required to immediately return the first 60% payment to the 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.


Yes. Up to 30% of the below the line production and post production 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.


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


The web series budget must include allowances for the creation of promotional assets listed in the application form and participation of key personnel in the launch campaign that begins 8 weeks prior to the premiere of the first episode and ends 12 months after the last episode premieres. The Coup Company will deliver a promotion campaign on behalf of the Stories for Caregivers initiative to drive viewership of the web series.


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.


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. The Fund requires that it be named as a party to production in all insurance policies.


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. 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.


You will find the answers to other frequently asked questions on our website here. You can also send an email to info@telusfund.ca.

10. 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: