Please wait...
Please wait...
Please wait...



Programming Profile

Attraction looks to balance bilingual production


Ian Whitehead, VP of English Scripted Content at Attraction, says the 20-year-old company will be looking for the right partners at Content London and balancing French- and English-language production during 2023.


Please can you give me a brief outline of your company and its activities?
Founded in 2002, Attraction is a production and distribution company that has created over 7,500 hours of scripted and unscripted content. We were recently ranked as one of the top 10 production companies in Canada producing, on average, more than 40 shows a year out of our offices in Montreal and Toronto.


What shows is your company best known for and what do you have in production?
Internationally, we are probably best known for Jean-Marc Vallee’s break-out feature film C.R.A.Z.Y. and multi-territory hit family comedy series Les Parents, which was a huge seven-season success domestically and remade in several countries. Our unscripted division has had great success with Underground Railroad: The Secret History, and we recently produced the LOL format for Quebec for Amazon Canada, where it will air this winter.


Ian Whitehead, Attraction

Our French scripted division has produced a several series and movies this year, including family movie Coco Ferme. Our English unscripted arm has several series in production, including Impossible Repairs S2 for Smithsonian/Paramount, Crime Scene Confidential for ID/Warner Bros Discovery and East Harbour Heroes for Discovery Canada/Bell.


What projects do you have on the development slate?
On the English scripted side, we have about a dozen shows in development, mostly one-hour series. They include family drama The Lost Brother from Pablo F Fenjves (Man on a Ledge) and City of Ice, created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstein (Flashpoint), which is a 6×60’ series based on the best-selling crime novel by John Farrow with director Daniel Grou (Lupin, Cardinal) attached.


The Chateau, meanwhile, is a romantic comedy series in the vein of The Love Boat, set at the world-famous Chateau Frontenac, and we are also developing a drama series created by Michael MacLennan (Tiny Pretty Things) set in the world of circus arts. We also have a 6×60’ thriller called 153 in coproduction with Screentime NZ, with DCD Rights distributing.


On the English unscripted side, besides new seasons of our shows already in production, we have a talent-based mystery series in development with Discovery and a factual entertainment series with Bell.


Dear Flora
Dear Flora

On the French scripted side, there are several series in development including two series with Patrick Huard’s shingle PaNik Fiction: Mercenary, based on the true story of maverick pilot Raymond Boulanger, famous for his 4,000kg cocaine bust but also his work with the CIA, and Bon Cop/Bad Cop, a TV series reboot of the hit movie of the same name in which a Francophone and an Anglophone officer reunite to investigate a murder.


What is your international expansion strategy?
As the industry looks to find more finance partnerships across territories, Attraction wants to leverage its size, experience and Canadian market position to be a premier partner for high-quality scripted and unscripted international production. While maintaining our strength in local-language production in Quebec, we are making English Scripted a priority with an accrued presence at markets to explore all quality opportunities.


How do you see global demand for Québécois content changing and where is demand highest?
The US networks’ diminishing command over global television distribution and local-language breakout hits on streamers mean there is ever-greater interest in local stories. Advances in dubbing and the increasing familiarity with subtitles allow Quebec shows to travel more than ever – not just as formats but in their original versions. Streamers are definitely leading demand for now. And companies such as Upgrade Productions are pointing to an even brighter future, centring their business around local-language productions.


A Family Affair
A Family Affair

How has the rise of streaming changed things for Québécois producers?
Streaming has broken the US networks’ stranglehold on what the world audience has available to watch, and high-quality local-language shows have demonstrated that they can turn into global hits. So Quebec now has access to the world market in a way it didn’t have just a few years ago.


In addition, streamers have been acquiring back-catalogue when broadcast windows were pretty much played out. Smaller streamers like Topic are giving Quebec shows opportunities to find new audiences in the US. Recent entries into the Canadian market by Amazon Prime Canada, Paramount+ Canada and Disney+ Canada are going to mean more Quebec production. Lastly, Quebec’s local players such as Bell, Radio-Canada and TVA need to stay in the fight, so are doubling down on original content for their streaming services so as not to lose viewers to global streamers.


What is your company looking to achieve at Content London 2022?
For those who aren’t familiar with the breadth and depth of Attraction as a Canadian production company, we’re working on introducing ourselves and what we do. We have some financing to close on a few projects and have a fresh development slate that we think buyers and coproducers will find compelling. We are also looking to come in as minority coproducers on high-quality projects.


Ultimately, we are looking to develop long-term quality relationships with the right partners. For 2023 and beyond, we will be focused on building our English slate of production while continuing to produce our high-quality local productions in Quebec.