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Programming Profile

Zone3 seeks coproduction partners in London


Mélanie Ratté, senior director of international distribution and business development at Zone3, talks through the Montreal company’s development slate and priorities for its return to Content London.


Can you give us a brief outline of your company and its activities?
Zone3 is one of the leading television production companies in both Quebec and Canada. We create international content and brands across all genres: fiction series, factual, variety, documentary, reality TV, gameshows and youth programmes. We also adapt international hit formats for the Quebec and Canadian markets.


We produce an annual average of 350 hours of content for most Quebec and Canadian broadcasters. We produce mainly in French, but we are increasing our production slate in English. We also own Cinémaginaire, the Oscar-winning production company behind The Barbarian Invasions.


Mélanie Ratté, Zone3

What shows is your company best known for and what do you have in production?
We are pretty strong in entertainment, with shows including Family Feud Canada, Come Dine With Me and Love It or List It, and have a track record of producing a lot of volume and hit daily shows. Some of our original shows have been around for years. Infoman on Radio-Canada is a news and public affairs weekly satire that has been top-rating for 23 years. Also, Prière de ne Pas Envoyer de Fleurs is a celebrity roast show we have been producing for 12 years. Our shows are successful and last.


We have invested considerably in fiction over the past three years and it’s paying off, with new series like our powerful crime drama Motel Paradis, by multi-award-winning Canadian filmmaker Sophie Deraspe; our teen drama series Les Petits Rois (aka Entitled); The World of Gabrielle Roy, a period drama series on the life of the famous Canadian author; and L’Effet Secondaire, our award-winning daily fiction series for tweens, adapted from The First Years.


Motel Paradis
Motel Paradis

We are also strong in youth programmes, with many shows currently in production: L’île Kilucru (Whimsywonder Island), a daily fiction show for four- to seven-year-olds; and Basket (Hoop Loops), a comedy for tweens.


We currently have around 40 shows in production, but among the new ones, I would like to pick out the following:


Après Le Déluge (Still I Rise) is a six-part drama for Bell Media that tells the rough-and-tumble story of a policewoman who decides to take four troubled inner-city young adults under her wing. She introduces them to Mixed Martial Arts, hoping to give them a fighting chance at keeping their crime sheets clean. The series is written and directed by Mara Joly, a young black director, with a cast that is 70% diverse.


Le Lot Du Diable (aka The Devil’s Lot) is a hit reality competition format we created in 2017 and that is returning on Historia this November. The background narrative for the competition is one country’s specific slice of history. In the original first season, the two competing groups had to establish a colony on an inhospitable piece of land. In the second season, they are plunged into the hard life of the cod fishing communities on the banks of the Gaspé Peninsula during the Great Depression.


The Devil's Lot: So Help Me Cod
The Devil’s Lot: So Help Me Cod

What projects do you have on the development slate?
We have a 10 fiction series projects in financed development with various Canadian broadcasters, and around 12 other fiction projects that we are developing internally across all genres. On the unscripted side, we are working on a unique and exciting dating reality show and a studio-based entertainment format. We also have a daily educational mixed-media show for six- to eight-year-olds that is about to be commissioned.


What is your international expansion strategy?
We are very keen on landing an international fiction coproduction and therefore we are developing and co-developing premium projects accordingly, both in French and English.


We are also increasing our catalogue distribution efforts, both finished programmes and formats. We have some valuable scripted and unscripted formats that we are working at reviving internationally. Zone3 produces a lot, so our catalogue is growing nicely each year.


Although international buyers and commissioners are more open to non-English-language content than ever, English remains the main segue into the international market. We are therefore starting to expand in that area, and are also making approaches in the US.


Still I Rise
Still I Rise

How do you see global demand for Québécois content changing and where is demand highest?
As far as finished programmes are concerned, we are noticing a growing appetite from all parts of Europe, mainly from streaming platforms. But the highest demand remains for formats – scripted and unscripted. Quebec is known for producing very creative and high-concept series, and that seems to appeal to the international market. We also feel that international buyers are more open to French-language content than ever, which is very exciting. We strongly believe that Québécois content has great potential.


How has the rise of streaming changed things for Québécois producers?
It’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s very positive because it has opened up the market and created new opportunities for producers, encouraging us to develop bolder, more diverse stories. But at the same time, it has exploded the demand for content, making it harder to staff our teams. The constant need for new content is pushing our creative and production teams to the limit. We are starting to feel something like ‘streaming exhaustion,’ if I can call it that.


What is your company looking to achieve at Content London 2022?
This is our second year attending Content London and we’re very excited about it. We have a wonderful English-language crime series based on true events in development, for which we are looking for international partners. That’s the top priority.


Our second focus will be on three of our strongest and most recent IPs: crime drama Motel Paradis, drama series Still I Rise and history-based reality format The Devil’s Lot. Another objective is to let the industry know that Quebecois content is of great value, and that Zone3 is open to different business models.


What are your company’s plans for 2023 and beyond?
To keep on thriving and doing what we do best – working with la crème de la crème to create and produce strong and valuable content for the Canadian market. But also expanding. So yes, the co-development and coproduction of fiction with international partners – both in French and English – are definitely part of the plan.

More programming profiles

  • 11-11-2021

    Mélanie Ratté of Quebec prodco Zone3 tells C21 the company is putting global growth top of its 2022 agenda, starting with its first trip to Content London later this month.


    Next year will be the year Zone3 really makes its mark on the international market. That’s the plan, says Mélanie Ratté, senior director of international distribution and business development at the Montreal-based prodco.


    “We’ve already been there for a while,” she continues. “Our scripted format Like-Moi! created by Marc Brunet has been adapted in France and Germany, and another of Brunet’s comedy series Le Coeur a ses raisons has been sold in France, among others. But only recently have we genuinely committed to international expansion in terms of time, effort and investment. Speaking of Marc Brunet, we are currently developing his next comedy series with Radio-Canada, which we hope will resonate internationally.”