Celebrating 10 years of supporting Western Canadian storytelling

Producer Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in our program!

TELUS originals are high impact documentaries that reflect the kaleidoscopic Canadian experience and embody TELUS’ social purpose values.

Who we are

TELUS is a telecommunications company, not a broadcaster - this allows us to support films that are driven by what’s important to you, not by what’s important to the market. TELUS originals are licensed within TELUS’ community programming commitment to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which means that we commission films within regions where TELUS provides cable TV services.

Our unique model often allows us to provide funding at greater levels than a traditional broadcast entity may be able to support; however, we are also limited in our ability to accept other funders and broadcast pre-sales in TELUS originals’ financing structures. In addition, we require specific shoot locations. Keep reading to learn more.

What we fund

We pre-license feature-length documentaries (70-90 mins.) as well as a limited number of short docs and limited series.

Though we don’t provide development funds, we do accept some development costs in your production budget. Please note, TELUS originals does not acquire content.

Our areas of focus

We are interested in supporting the production of stories that explore issues of social relevance to Canadians.

We are often asked “What are you looking for right now?”. In the spirit of responding to your most-asked question, we offer below a list of subject areas that are of particular interest to us for the 2024 pitch intake window — but be aware that this is by no means exclusive of our - and your - many areas of interest, so please bring us what you are compelled to make, even if it falls outside of these themes.

Areas of focus:

  • Health and well-being

  • Environmental sustainability

  • Connectivity and technology

  • Flourishing youth, families and communities

Themes of particular interest in 2024:

  • Aging in place, thriving elders and elder care, child and youth mental health and resilience

  • Technology and nature-driven climate change mitigation, humans processing climate realities and propelling strategies for change, alternative energy and energy management, the circular / zero waste economy, water management & endangered species

  • Online safety, data privacy, and responsible use of AI

  • Community changemakers, newcomers to Canada, parenting and family well-being in complex environments


Where we fund

TELUS original films have global resonance, but they start close to home. They are all locally reflective of, and relevant to, the communities across British Columbia and Alberta listed below. We can fund projects that are locally reflective (i.e. filmed 80% or more in) one of these 15 regions:

Docuseries episodes may be set in more than one region (eg. Ep. 1 in Red Deer, Ep. 2 in Kelowna).

Alberta

  • Calgary Region

  • Edmonton, Camrose, Hinton, Whitecourt, Namao, Vegreville

  • Fort McMurray and Fort MacKay

  • Grande Prairie, Peace River and Slave Lake, Lethbridge

  • Medicine Hat

  • Red Deer, Innisfail, Sylvan Lake and Ponoka

British Columbia

  • Campbell River, Comox Valley, Nanaimo to Duncan

  • Greater Victoria Region

  • Kamloops

  • Kelowna

  • Metro Vancouver, Sea to Sky and the Sunshine Coast

  • Penticton, Osoyoos, Trail to Creston

  • Prince George

  • Vernon & Salmon Arm


What we look for when we evaluate

In general, TELUS originals supports documentaries with unique points of view, and that are driven by access, ‘characters’ and compelling narratives.

Our films call audiences into conversations that are important to Canadian and global communities. While our content may bring light to complex situations, rather than ‘calling out’, TELUS originals films invite audiences into conversation -  and into a vision for the future we can all create together.

In our evaluation process, we look for projects that have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Are entertaining and engaging

  • Explore themes that are relevant to Canadian and global communities

  • Capture active narratives, unfolding in the present. 

  • Present formerly overlooked historical narratives, making clear their relationship to the current moment

  • Are story-driven, and presented through a specific, explicit POV

  • Are access-driven, providing unprecedented entry into a subject or world

  • Provide a new point of entry to a world we thought we knew - but might not.

  • Are locally reflective, as required, while retaining national or global resonance.

  • Provide a compelling vision of human empowerment, one that prompts change, or that fosters new understanding.

Some of the questions we ask ourselves as we review your submission are:

  • Does your film shed light on something formerly hidden from view?

  • Does your story challenge stereotypes?

  • Is your film truly reflective of the geographic and demographic communities you seek to represent?

  • Why are you the person to tell this story?

  • Why does this story need to be told?

  • Why now?

  • Where will this story be a year from now? Five years from now?

  • How will this story shift perspectives?

We do not fund the following content:

  • Magazine style series

  • Scripted (short or long-form)

  • True crime

  • Game

  • Competition

  • Lifestyle

  • Investigative 

  • Music video

  • “Reality” TV/Web (docu-soap, occu-soap or soft-scripted)


Authentic storytelling

TELUS takes very seriously our responsibility to provide funding and platforms for authentic, non-extractive, connected and responsible storytelling. In relation to any community that you seek to represent, TELUS will ask that you make very clear your relationship to the communities, persons and themes underlying your content, and to establish your authority to tell the stories arising from them.

In particular, TELUS is committed to progressing the path of Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in a deeply meaningful way. With regard to original content, TELUS takes very seriously its responsibility to the Indigenous communities on whose land we operate.

To this end, it is important to us that we continue to learn from the guidance developed and provided by Indigenous cultural workers. We are grateful for their work, and we ask, when your concept concerns any content relating to the oral, written, graphic or other cultural expressions of Indigenous Peoples, that you familiarize yourself with and adhere to the guidance contained within the Pathways & Protocols work of the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), including ON-SCREEN PATHWAYS & PROTOCOLS: A Media Production Guide to Working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities, Cultures, Concepts and Stories, as well as the ISO’s subsequently published tools and guides.

In addition, we ask that you ensure your storytelling approach aligns with the best practice guidelines set forth by the equity driving organizations of other Canadian communities. Specifically, we ask that you seek out and ensure your practice is informed by the resources of the Black Screen Office, and the disability media advocacy and policy organization, FWD-DOC. We look forward to the publication of guidelines by the Disability Screen Office. When they become available, we will link them here.

IP Ownership, Financing & Insurance

IP Ownership

Working with us means that you will retain all copyright, and are therefore free to sell your visual asset to a broadcaster, OTT provider or other platform as soon as it has launched on TELUS platforms (do, however refer to Film Incentive BC, the AMPG, and CAVCO’s specific tax credit/production grant guidelines for any that might apply to your distribution activities).

We require producers to have all chain of title elements in place before entering into a long form agreement with us. You must also confirm access prior to contracting, and formally release all participants, materials, music and locations during production.

Financing

Our license fees are determined in accordance with the scale and scope of your project and, as noted above, are sometimes higher than those of a traditional broadcaster.

Due to TELUS’ CRTC Conditions of License however, we are unable to support projects with the funding from following sources (applicable to both development and production):

  • The Canada Media Fund

  • Telefilm

  • The National Film Board of Canada

  • Certified Independent Production Funds (including Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco and the TELUS Fund)

  • Pre-sold second windows (excepting APTN, Knowledge Network and TVO).

  • Treaty co-production deals

We are, however, able to support projects with the following sources of funding:


Insurance

The TELUS originals program now requires that your production entity carry industry standard entertainment package and general liability insurance.

TELUS now also requires that you carry Producer’s Errors and Omissions Insurance, unless this requirement is waived in writing by the Production Executive who is your TELUS representative.

Marketing & Impact Production

Is it important to TELUS that the content you create connects with your targeted audiences. For this reason, we look for submissions that have preliminary audience development plans. We encourage you to contemplate additional associated costs, including the production of a trailer and the retention of a publicist and/or impact producer, in your preliminary budget calculations and submissions.

As often as possible, TELUS likes to provide audiences with bonus content related to your film. This may include assets like extended or entire primary subject interviews, behind the scenes footage compilation (assuming standard appearance releases are secured), subject matter ‘deep dives’, or director/producer/key creator chats or interviews. We are interested to hear your ideas about the specific possibilities for your film.

TELUS may also request that you make yourself available for TELUS produced podcasts, and/or other forms of TELUS produced ancillary content to build out the world of your film and reinforce its relationship with your audiences.

All of our content is exhibited on TELUS Optik® VOD and TELUS’ digital and mobile platforms (though fixed term holdbacks may be negotiated).

When we accept pitches

TELUS originals accepts pitches for production funding during one annual intake window.

The 2024 pitch intake window is from June 3 to July 31, 2024.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page for opportunities to engage with us before and during the pitch intake window.

Who we work with

We work with Canadian independent producers who are committed to engaging authentically with the local community represented in their film, and who have the proven ability to deliver projects of the scope and budget they are proposing.

How we collaborate

We care about both the stories we tell and the storytellers whose films we support -  we work to grow mutually beneficial, respectful and collaborative relationships with our external production teams.

We do our best to be very producer-friendly in all of our policies and approaches.

We work collaboratively with producers providing end-to-end consultation as required through development (though we cannot fund it), pre-production, production, post-production and delivery. This includes a notes process at the standard post-production milestones - rough, fine and pre-lock cuts.

In all of our dealings with you, we adhere to a Code of Conduct.

This is important because it empowers you with explicit standards of conduct to which you can hold the TELUS originals team accountable.

In turn, we require that all TELUS originals-funded content producers read and acknowledge their intent to abide by the same Code.

Tell us about your pitch

In 2024, TELUS originals will be accepting pitches through our Pitch Submission Form which will be open from June 3 to July 31, 2024.

If your pitch aligns with our updated Producer Guidelines, TELUS originals Production Executives are open to learning about it.

Producers are encouraged to connect with a TELUS originals Production Executive before submitting a pitch via one of these methods:

Register for our Ask us Anything session on May 22

Join the team for a brief overview of the TELUS originals program, ask questions during the Q&A session, and meet in a small group with Production Executives.

Email us a one-liner concept for feedback

Feel free to email us a one-liner concept pitch and we’ll let you know whether we might be interested in it.

Book a 20 minute pitch meeting

We offer Producers 20 minute meetings to pitch their concept to a Production Executive for immediate, brief feedback.


Read our 2023 Pitch Submission Guidelines

You can reference our 2023 Pitch Submission Guidelines and watch for an updated version coming May 2024.

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