All posts for category: CFC Media Lab > ASTOUND

Another Successful Joint Venture – CFC Media Lab at Hot Docs Film Festival

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CFC Media Lab is pleased to support this year’s Hot Docs Industry Workshops series on May 1st & 2nd, 2014. From creating a business model to raising capital through private investment and bringing films to market, these workshops offered crucial insights to assist content producers in making the shift to content entrepreneurs. This 3-part series included sessions on:

  • ASTOUND Business Model Canvas (BMC): In continued partnership with the ASTOUND Initiative, CFC Media Lab and Hot Docs present the ASTOUND BMC workshop, a highly interactive session on using techniques and tools to identify their unique business model. Canadian Film Centre facilitators, Orla Garriques and Aaron Williamson, walked documentary producers through the creation of a “business model canvas” using the Alexander Osterwalder method, evolved by CFC Media Lab, for the creative content industry.
  • Seeking Private Investment? A Workshop on the Essentials for Doc Filmmakers: In today’s market, private investment is becoming an increasingly important component of any funding strategy. This workshop, led by advisor Anne Marie Maduri (Maduri + Associates), provides a strategic approach to raising capital. Participants were guided on the key elements required to build a compelling investment story that will help convince investors to support their project or business.
  • Theatrical On Demand®: Led by Scott Glosserman, Founder/CEO of Gathr, a new hybrid exhibitor /distributor company, this session helped participants develop strategies for a theatrical-on-demand distribution plan, and best practices for activating communities and engaging audiences. Theatrical-on-demand is becoming a viable strategy for an innovative and integrated distribution.

Congratulations to the Hot Docs team on an incredible showcase of documentaries, talent and speakers. For festival highlights visit:

For more workshops, resources and key entrepreneurial presentations stay tuned to StableTalk.

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ASTOUND Summit: The Business of Audience Engagement


Now is a great time to be an artist and entrepreneur, but one thing’s for sure: you have to do your research, understand the landscape and be creative with your engagement efforts. Otherwise, you could get lost in the mix.

That was the message that attendees heard from a number of different presentations and workshops geared towards content producers and investors at the very first ASTOUND Summit, which took place Saturday, October 19 at OCADU in Toronto.

Consumer intelligence, data and analytics, the business model canvas, social media strategies and the art of pitching were some of the main presentation topics addressed at the event.


“It’s been an excellent event,” Kevin Naismith, founder and CEO of digital media start-up OnePape said. “The speakers have been great and the content has covered everything. This is the stuff you need to know.”

Naismith is one of many entrepreneurs and producers that attended the summit this weekend and is part of a huge contingency of creative young people looking to disrupt a space and start their own business.

“ASTOUND has been really great, and it’s addressing a big gap that exists,” Shari Cohen, a program consultant at Ontario Media Development Corporation said. “This is a great initiative.”


A few key takeaways from the summit:

  • “Your audience is not on all platforms – you need to understand where they are and how they’re accessing it,” digital media strategist Eric Leo Blais said during his presentation on social media strategies. “Every time you ask your audience to leave one platform for another, you will likely lose them.”
  • “It’s not enough just to use social, you need to have a plan,” Blais said. “How do you know if your campaign has been successful? You need to use metrics.”
  • “How do we understand the value of experience?” Todd Cherkasky from SapientNitro asks, pointing to a slide showing brand and marketing ROI, return on media channels and experience optimization. “We need to reframe what we measure.”


  • “Your film, your project, your product – it’s got a million things to it and you love it. You’d like to share everything possible with the person who’s going to invest their money, but they’re not actually interested in it,” business coach Warren Coughlin said during his presentation on the art of pitching. “You’ve got to distill it down to the salient points in the timeframe you have in order to convince them to take the action that you want.”
  • “People forget facts, but they remember stories,” Coughlin said. “You need to build that into your presentation. What you’re trying to do is bypass the logical critic that the investor has so you can tap into their emotion. Stories will do that, but you need to think strategically about what story is important. Is it your story? Is it the investor’s story? Is it the story of the potential customer? Is it the story of the marketplace? You need to tell some kind of narrative that brings me along with you.”


The ASTOUND Initiative is led by CFC Media Lab in partnership with Hot Docs, and OCADU. ASTOUND is made possible through The Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.

For more information on the ASTOUND Initiative, or the ASTOUND Summit, visit

ASTOUND Salon: Accessing Private Investment by Numbers

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Last night at the Spoke Club in Toronto, producers and content creators learned the importance of crunching the numbers and understanding analytics for attracting investment at this year’s second ASTOUND Salon.

Anne Marie Maduri, from Maduri & Associates, along with Debra McLaughlin of Strategic Inc., teamed up and laid out some tips for digital, film and TV producers looking to raise capital in today’s market.


Three core questions that must be answered for investors are:

  • Why should they invest?
  • What is it exactly that they are investing in?
  • What is the expected return?

Without the answers to these questions, investors could quickly walk away from a deal. They don’t want to do your homework for you, they want you to come prepared with numbers in tow.

“What’s the profile of your target audience? Who is the target market? Investors want to know this,” Maduri said, as she outlined her core revenue equations.

But where all of this data comes from varies between mediums and also by market and contractual agreements. There really is no such thing as too much data when looking for investment.


Some other key takeaways from the presentation:

  • If you are pitching a pilot, try to build into your contract with a broadcaster that you attain the broadcaster’s performance data report.
  • Broadcasters want to see a diverse revenue mix for TV content — not just one revenue stream. Think branded content, second screen, etc.
  • Use the large resources available to you, as well as smaller niche measurements to form an audience profile. The CRTC & CMPA have extensive data resources that are helpful in this regard.
  • Investors want to know what your market differentiator is, and they want to know that you are aware of all of your competition. To say that you have no competition is a major faux pas in raising capital.
  • For digital media properties, you have to think outside the box, develop a dialogue with the right investors and find ways to appeal to them, as they may not fully understand the market. “The investor’s children will likely know more about digital media than they do,” Maduri said.


This Saturday, October 19, is the ASTOUND Summit. For more information on the day’s events and how you can participate, please visit

The ASTOUND Initiative is led by CFC Media Lab in partnership with Hot Docs, and OCADU. ASTOUND is made possible through The Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.

Astound: Into the Mind of an Investor

Yesterday, we hosted several Toronto area investors at an Astound Salon in the exclusive Soho House. The goal of the night was to introduce them to the creative industry as a potential space for investment, which in turn would bring about new funding opportunities for producers and arts-oriented startups.

Andrew Fisher, Executive Vice President of Wesley Clover International was on hand to speak about unlocking the investment potential of the Canadian content industries. Duncan Cork, CEO and Co-Founder of film investment platform, Slated, was also present to talk about the future of private investment in the film industry.

What we were treated to was an evening of very frank discussion about the pros and cons of investing in the creative space. This included some of the following:

The Cons:

  • High Risk Investment: Creative products often require a large investment upfront with very little guarantee of a return. As in the famous words of William Goldman, “Nobody knows anything.” A success is very difficult to predict.  Cork points out that of the 500,000 films made every year, only 3% make a profit and 500 of those 3% gain theatrical distribution. This makes the creative sector a high-risk investment.
  • Unfamiliar Sector: Investors can’t treat the creative sector as functioning similarly to other industries. For example, there is no correlation between a film’s budget and its box office performance. However in other sectors, Fisher states that investors can pump in more money to improve a product’s profitability potential.
  • Differing Frames of Mind: Producers and creative content organizations don’t think the same way or share the same needs as businesses in other sectors. For example, Cork notes that filmmakers are often not profit-oriented which is problematic for investors. To find a common understanding between them and the investor, transparent communications and some business training is recommended.

The Pros:

  • It’s Fun: Investing in the creative industry can be fun and offers a great outlet away from the more monotonous sectors. These are projects the investors will likely become very passionate about.
  • Mitigating Risks:  Some of the risk factors associated with investing in the creative sector can be mitigated. Fisher notes this could include taking steps to ensure that the project has a reliable team and a viable business model in place. The investor should also be sure that they have a good understanding of what the various business functions and revenue sources are.
  • Profit Potential: Although the creative sector is high risk, there is profit potential. Sometimes a project which most thought would be unsuccessful can perform surprisingly well. Cork noted that betting on an outlier project can result in an unexpected success, as was the case for My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002).

Although there are hurdles to overcome, we feel encouraged about the future of investment in the creative sector in Canada.

On October 19th, the CFC Media Lab will be hosting the ASTOUND Summit. This will be worth checking out once we release details. For more information about the ASTOUND Initiative, please visit

HOT DOCS: ASTOUND Business Model Canvas Workshop

Applications are now open for all industry pass holders to participate in the Business Model Canvas Workshops at Hot Docs with the Astound Initiative.

Registered delegates can apply via the Online Community.
Application Deadline: April 19, 2013

CFC Media Lab and facilitators will walk participants through creating a “business model canvas” for their documentary projects. Using the Alexander Osterwalder method and the work of his book Business Model Generation, the CFC Media Lab team will lead 16 participants in a series of exercises to help each project identify their various business models.

To Apply:
Applicants will be required to provide the materials listed below. Projects will be pre-selected by CFC Media Lab and Hot Docs staff.
A) Describe the project for which you are currently trying to figure out a business model (1 page)
B) Describe what you think an appropriate business for this project may be (1/2 page)

About The ASTOUND Initiative
The ASTOUND Initiative is a phased, systematic initiative that seeks to encourage private investment in Ontario’s creative industries. Phase one includes professional intensives and research in business modeling, and audience engagement, and an event framework that introduces private investors with content creators and companies. Led by CFC Media Lab, Hot Docs and OCADu, ASTOUND also includes participation from a host of tertiary partners: Achilles Media, CMPA, Interactive Ontario, MaRS Discovery District, Nordicity, Seneca College, Summerwood Group Inc., University of Waterloo -Stratford Campus, TIFF, Wesley Clover International, and WIFT-T.