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CONTENT QUEBEC ON DEMAND
DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Cineflix Media Inc.

Programming Profile

Cineflix’s Quebec content pipeline

21-04-2021

Cineflix Media unveils its playlist for C21’s virtual Content Quebec On Demand event, highlighting several high-end drama series and a wide variety of unscripted content. We speak to the company’s top execs to discuss their strategy for showcasing the best foreign IP and Canadian content.

 

Montreal-based media company Cineflix Media is bringing Canadian, and particularly Quebecois, content to the world stage. For president Peter Emerson, Quebec-produced programming is one of the next big trends in the TV industry.

 
“We see Quebec as the next Scandinavia or Israel – a vital place where important stories are being told. We want to work with Quebec producers to help them reach the world.”

 

Cineflix Media’s strategy for promoting Canadian and Quebec producers is to get involved with them on a partnership level, providing innovative financing models to overcome budget deficits and distribution worldwide through Cineflix Rights, the company’s in-house distributor.

 

Connect3 Media, a Montreal-based prodco set up by Cineflix Media in 2017 and led by Pablo Salzman as president, works with local producers to create a studio-style pipeline that goes from Connect3 to companies like Cineflix Rights, which can sell the show globally.

 

Emerson
Peter Emerson, President,
Cineflix Media

One such show on the slate for Content Quebec is the award-winning Berlinale Series 2020 Official Selection C’est comme ça que je t’aime/Happily Married (10×45’), a French-language Quebec drama produced by Productions Casablanca. After dropping their kids off at summer camp in 1974, two middle-class couples in crisis are confronted by the truth of their disintegrating relationships and set off on a comedy of errors en route to becoming professional hitmen for the mob. Cineflix Rights has taken Happily Married to regional SVoD players like Topic in the US and Salto in France, as well as a number of traditional broadcasters around the world.

 

Pablo Salzman says the show is a great example of top Canadian content, which has had to grow in the shadow of major US networks bleeding into Canadian TV: “Quebec is a cultural island in a North American ocean. US networks and global streamers are everywhere in Canada but Quebec on its own can’t spend the same amounts as these bigger players on a series. What we see in response, is Quebecois producers, broadcasters, and creatives coming up with shows such as Happily Married that have a really unique hook and tone, and truly stand out in the global content landscape. That’s what makes working in Quebec so exciting right now.”

 

The epitome of Cineflix Media’s strategy of having a pipeline from local producers to worldwide buyers is Mirage (6×60’), about a woman who discovers her husband faked his own death, 15 years after she thought she’d lost him. Set in Abu Dhabi, this spy thriller stars two Quebec actors – Marie-Josée Croze and Maxim Roy. Connect3 worked with French prodco Lincoln TV and Germany’s Wild Bunch to make the series. Indeed, Pablo Salzman comments that, at one point, there were 17 different nationalities on set, a testament to the show’s international make-up.

 

Salzman
Pablo Salzman,
Business Development,
French Canada, Cineflix Media

Last month, Cineflix Rights sold the show to ViacomCBS Networks International’s SVoD platform Paramount+ in the Nordics and Latin America.

 

Another show on the slate is Coroner (26×60’), which stars Serinda Swan as a recently widowed coroner investigating the most suspicious deaths in Toronto. Éric Bruneau, a prominent actor in Quebec, plays Serinda’s love interest in the series. Now in its third season, the show is a collaboration between Cineflix Media’s scripted production arm Cineflix Studios, Back Alley Film Productions and Montreal-based Muse Entertainment. The series has been sold to networks globally by Cineflix Rights.

 

Glen Salzman, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Cineflix Media, says Coroner’s ability to travel embodies the company’s strategy as both a producer and a distributor. “Since we were founded 25 years ago, we’ve always had a show’s international potential in mind,” he says. “We’re taking Canadian IP and helping the producers reach a larger audience through our distribution arm or helping them adapt the project for the English-language market and assist in finding partners.”

 

Another one of Cineflix Media’s jobs is to bring the best international content to North American audiences. One such show is Tehran (16×60’), produced by Israel’s Donna and Shula Productions, Paper Plane Productions, Paper Entertainment and Cineflix Studios for Israeli channel Kan 11 and Apple TV+. Emerson says Tehran’s presence on the Cineflix Media slate is a result of careful audience monitoring and the acquisitions team being able to identify a stand-out series for the international market.

 

Salzman
Glen Salzman, Co-Founder
and Co-CEO, Cineflix Media

“It’s totally market-driven,” he notes. “That’s the point of Cineflix Media’s vertical integration – to bring what you learn in the international markets to content selection and then to make the project as accessible as it can be, even though it might be about a specific place at a specific time. The key is to find universality. Knowing the international markets and having Cineflix Rights’ HQ in London, we are positioned to accomplish that.”

 

“We’re always looking at the Netflixs, Disneys and Apple TV+, but we don’t want to sell everything to them,” Emerson says. “We’re actually looking at regional streamers more often and being vertically integrated helps that. Indies often undersell themselves to streaming platforms and, at best, sell to cover their deficit. With Coroner, we could have sold it straight out the gate to an OTT and made our budget back, but we took our time and went territory by territory, knowing the value.”

 

Happily Married
Happily Married

Cineflix Media’s vertical integration model helps the unscripted pipeline too. Sherri Rufh, the company’s executive VP of production and administration, says its structure puts it in a “unique position.”

 

Another eagerly anticipated World Productions title is “Our infrastructure provides in-house resources like business and legal, production admin, marketing and finance,” Rufh adds. “We have such a wide array of experience that allows us to transfer from development to production seamlessly.”

 

Like in scripted, Cineflix Media’s factual offerings also attract global buyers. An example is Homicide: Hours to Kill (78×60’), a true crime series detailing the 24 hours leading up to a murder. The show was produced over three seasons by Toronto and New York-based Cineflix Productions and moved along the pipeline to Cineflix Rights, where it has since been sold to A+E Networks in the UK and around the world.

 

Rufh
Sherri Rufh, EVP, Production and
Administration, Cineflix Media

Also, in factual, Chuck’s World (13×30’) is distributed by Cineflix Rights and is available for international sale. Produced by Montreal’s Trio Orange and hosted by Quebec chef Chuck Hughes, the series sees Hughes travel the world in search of new and exciting recipes.

 

A major franchise with twin renovators Drew and Jonathan Scott developed by Cineflix Productions with a proven track record of selling abroad is Property Brothers (187×60’), which ran for eight seasons and has sold into more than 160 countries. The programme now has various spin-offs, including Property Brothers: Forever Home, which are distributed by Cineflix Rights.

 

Another flagship show for Cineflix Productions is American Pickers (341×60’), in which Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz travel across the US recycling people’s junk. With 10 seasons under its belt, the series is one of the History Channel’s top shows in the US.

 

Mirage
Mirage

Beating the longevity of either of the above series is Mayday: Air Disaster (190×60’), which has completed 21 seasons for National Geographic Channel International and Smithsonian in the US. Each episode examines cockpit recordings, accident reports and eyewitness accounts to retrace what caused a particular air disaster.

 

Glen Salzman says long-running shows are a crucial part of Cineflix Media’s cosmopolitan slate: “We want to be diversified in unscripted, and that means developing and producing long-established brands. We used to be just Cineflix Productions when we started, but now we have a hub of producer partners adding to the content pipeline.”

 

Coroner
Coroner

Another prodco which Cineflix has collaborated with is Montreal’s Ideacom International, with the two companies working together on the global launch of Who Was the Real Neanderthal? (1×60’). The blue-chip documentary, which travels back 400,000 years to examine the life of humanity’s prehistoric cousins, was broadcast on Canada’s CBC in February and is on offer from Cineflix Rights at Content Quebec.

 

To sum it up, Emerson says shows made all over the world are exactly what Cineflix Media is looking to acquire: “The whole world is our playground, as we illustrated by going to Israel and discovering Tehran. We look everywhere for shows that are going to punch above their weight internationally.

 

“We also want to provide that service to Canadian and Quebec producers. They may see us as competition, but it’s not the case. We’re a platform for them to access the rest of the world, and we want to help them take advantage.”