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

ideaBOOST Announces Cohort 3 Shortlist

After reviewing a long list of exceptional entrants, ideaBOOST jury members had the difficult task of narrowing down a list of shortlisted candidates. We are pleased to announce that the following eleven projects have been shortlisted and invited to proceed to the final stage in the selection process; a live pitch taking place November 4th in front of Founding Partners Shaw Media, Google and Corus Entertainment.

The shortlist is as follows:

1. Bublcam
The bublcam is a consumer ready camera that captures everything through spherical photos and videos.


2. Codename: Hotslime
Private communities for sharing. Codename: Hotslime — the third incarnation of the Bulletin Board System (BBS).

ideaBOOST Shortlist

3. L.A.R.G.E. Location-based AR Gaming Engine
L.A.R.G.E. is a tool kit for the creation of location-based and augmented reality experiences.


4. LongStory
LongStory is a progressive and queer-positive romantic adventure game for tweens.


5. Poesis
Aerial robotics. The company is focused on providing high resolution images and video captured by a low-altitude, custom-designed UAV’s with fully stabilized, full tilt/pan/360 control equipped for the RED EPIC, ALEXA M or DSL cameras.


6. RadioMogul
Create, customize & curate your own monetizable Internet radio station.


7. Soothsayer
A 3D previsualization tool for filmmakers to prototype their movies.


8. StoryTrigger™
StoryTrigger™ is a mobile app enabling the package to release info to the consumer’s smartphone.


9. Think Dirty
A mobile app that makes reading beauty and body care product labels simple, easy and fun.

Think Dirty

10. uMentioned
A location app that allows you to anonymously flirt and make new friends with people nearby.


11. Weirdwood Manor
A unique storytelling experience—a novel brought to life through interaction and animation.

Weirdwood Manor

The CFC Media Lab would like to congratulate all of the shortlisted companies and thank everyone who submitted their project for consideration this year.

ideaBOOST’s third cohort will be formally announced on November 20th at our Launch Pad event at Steam Whistle Brewing, Toronto.

ASTOUND Salon: Accessing Private Investment by Numbers

SalonPic 1 - logo

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.

Body/Mind/Change Invades Made in NY Media Center Launch Party


This past Wednesday, the CFC Media Lab invaded the super exclusive launch party for the Made in NY Media Center with Body/Mind/Change, our latest co-production with TIFF. Our installation, complete with 3D printed PODs and images projected onscreen, were the definite highlight of the evening.

About Made in NY Media Center
Made in NY Media Center is located in DUMBO, Brooklyn where storytellers from multiple disciplines, industries and platforms create, collaborate, connect and incubate across a spectrum of programs, events and experiences. They strive to bring together innovators in film, video, gaming, technology and more through education, mentorship, entrepreneurship and content creation.

About Body/Mind/Change
In Body/Mind/Change, Cronenberg partners with BMC Labs, a fictional biotech firm, to develop biotech enhancement implants inspired by the intellectual property found in his films, such as Scanners, Videodrome and eXistenZ. Cronenberg is the first participant in the project. At launch on October 25, registered participants will be guided through an episodic interactive narrative that functions as a simulator for training their PODs. Completing this three-part experience will guarantee them a unique POD generated from their behaviour during the simulations.

If you haven’t signed up for a POD yet, you still have a chance to do so at

Body/Mind/Change is a co-production between TIFF and CFC Media Lab, with creative direction and experience design by Lance Weiler. Presenting Partner for Body/Mind/Change is the department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Interactive Fund with support provided by the Government of Ontario. Executive producers are Noah Cowan, Ana Serrano and Shane Smith. Ana Serrano is the producer.





Digi Awards Submissions & diy days Toronto

Here is a look at what some of our friends have been up to lately…

Digi Awards Submissions Are Due On October 4

Is your digital media product ground-breaking and engaging in the digisphere?  Has your webseries captured the hearts of everyone around the country?  Have you elevated your company to new heights?  If you answer yes to any of those questions, you should apply for The Digi Awards!

Our friends over at nextMEDIA are looking for some awesome Canadians who are making waves in the digital media industry.  In addition to a wide spectrum of categories that cover projects in digital content, advertising, mobile, and gaming, the Digis also recognize the people and companies that make it happen.  It is a great platform to market yourself and your organization on a national scale.

All who submit will be exposed to an industry audience via a profile on the nextMEDIA website.  As a finalist, a represented will also be invited to attend the Digi Awards ceremony, held in Toronto.  Take a look at the current entries.

The Digi Awards will take place at the 2013 nextMEDIA Content & Marketing Summit on December 3rd at The Carlu in Toronto.

For more information, please visit


diy days Toronto Coming up in October

WHEN: Saturday, October 19th
WHERE: Rogers Communication Centre | 80 Gould Street, Toronto
WHAT: Join us for a FREE day of talks, workshops, labs, hacks and networking.

The theme for the event is “New stories for a Great City: Change Through Transmedia.”

In 11 countries around the world, and now for the first time in Canada: diy days is a FREE EVENT for storytellers, hackers, student youth, game designers, architects, engineers, activists, makers & educators.

Come together for a day of experimentation, creation and innovation ­one where story meets action.

Collectively prototype new visions of Toronto’s future through social games, power talks and hands­ on workshops, and learn how to make your own ideas come to life.

Registration and program Information at

CFC & Mind Pirate Announce the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab

Program seeks developer superstars to create games and apps for wearable technology devices

Potential to be among the first to publish games and apps for mobile wearable devices with excitingly new Callisto technology.

TORONTO, Canada and MENLO PARK, Calif., October 1, 2013 – Do you have what it takes to create the next blockbuster game or mobile app? Today the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and wearable technology company, Mind Pirate, announced the companies have partnered to create the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab: a program that will give select developers and/or companies the opportunity to create games and apps for the next consumer mega trend of wearable technology. Select products from the program may be published and brought to market at a future date. Together the program employs the framework of CFC’s ideaBOOST accelerator program and the technology, expertise and vision of Mind Pirate.

Up to six U.S. and Canadian developers and/or companies will be selected to participate in a three-month boot camp where they will use their own programming prowess and Mind Pirate’s next-generation game platform, Callisto, to create products for mobile wearable devices, like Google Glass. Callisto does not release publicly to third parties until 2014, making ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab program participants among the first in the world to get their hands on this next-generation technology.

“We are thrilled to be providing best of breed developers and/or companies with this unique opportunity. Through our digital entertainment accelerator ideaBOOST, the CFC is at the forefront of taking business mentoring techniques from the lean start-up

movement and applying them to the media and entertainment industry. With the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab, we can direct these proven prototype development and lean business acceleration methods towards the creation of wearable technology experiences,” said Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC.

“Having participated in ideaBOOST as a board member, I knew it would be an ideal forum to give developers the opportunity to create exciting, new experiences for the wearable technology megatrend using our Callisto game platform,” said Shawn Hardin, Founder & CEO of Mind Pirate. “Callisto is the only wearable technology game platform on the market; it gives developers the tools to create engaging experiences that merge the virtual and physical worlds. This program is perfect for developers who are ready to take the leap into the next-generation of gaming. We can’t wait to see what kind of gaming experiences the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab participants will create!”

Callisto is the market’s first and only tightly integrated client-side and server side game-focused platform that supports leading mobile devices with a special emphasis on “wearables” such as smart glass and smart watches. It enables developers to create engaging experiences that merge the virtual and physical worlds through rich applications that take maximum advantage of the native capabilities of the underlying hardware but at the same time preserve a consistent experience across device types.

Interested parties can start submitting applications on October 2, 2013 by visiting The application deadline is October 22, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The program will begin November 20, 2013 at the CFC headquarters in Toronto.

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

CFC Media Lab at 3D Flic Conference

This past weekend, the CFC Media Lab attended the 3D Flic: Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference, which was held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

On the Sunday, we hosted a Q&A with stereographer, Demetri Portelli, 3D Engineer Ben Gervais and Amelie (2001) Director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who Skyped in live from Paris. A twelve-minute preview from Jeunet’s next film, The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013), was shown to conference attendees to much fanfare. This panel was moderated by 3d Flic lead keynote filmmaker, Ali Kazimi.


The following Monday, our very own Doug Naylor moderated a master class with Hugo (2011) and 47 Ronin (2013) stereographer, Demetri Portelli. The event was well-attended by Toronto area filmmakers and up-and-coming student filmmakers from schools across Ontario.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Stereographer Demetri Portelli at 3D FLIC

This upcoming weekend, the CFC Media Lab will be hosting two exciting events at the 3D FLIC: Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference.

This conference has been acclaimed as a unique international gathering of creative, scientific and business minds discussing, discovering and inspiring innovation in “Stereoscopic 3D” Cinema. So, you definitely will not want to miss out on this:

1. Live Online Interview with Director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Special Preview of The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

Sunday, September 22, 2013, famed French Director of Amelie (2001), Jean-Pierre Jeunet will showcase 12 minutes from his new 3D film, The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013). Jeunet will address the conference live via Skype from Paris and will be joined live on stage by his Canadian Stereographer, Demetri Portelli to discuss Jeunet’s unique style of 3D storytelling.

2. Master Class with Demetri Portelli

On Monday, September 23, stereographer of Hugo (2011) and 47 Ronin (2013), Demetri Portelli will lead a master class.

Demetri Portelli is a Stereographer / 3D Supervisor who has been working as a cameraman for 20 years. For his stereography on the film Hugo(2011) by Martin Scorsese, Demetri accepted the award for ‘Best Live Action Stereography’ at The 2012 International 3D Society, Creative Arts Awards. In 2013 Demetri is proud to be involved with the upcoming 47 Ronin 3D (2013) for Universal Pictures and The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013) which marks a first foray in 3D filmmaking by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

The Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference runs from September 20-23, 2013 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. To ensure that you don’t miss out on this one-time opportunity, be sure to book your tickets today.

Fall Season Holds Body/Mind/Change, ideaBOOST and Lean Content for the CFC Media Lab

It’s time to wake up to the new face of film.

This past Wednesday morning, CFC Media Lab hit the new trendy Queen West hotspot, The Beverly, to host a media briefing to announce our upcoming slate of initiatives. The next couple of months will be exciting times at the CFC Media Lab with a roster of projects on the go, including:


A co-production between the CFC Media and TIFF, Body/Mind/Change is an elaborate multimedia production directed by Lance Weiler and stars David Cronenberg.

Lance Weiler, the Filmmaker and Creative Director + Experience Designer of Body/Mind/Change was on-hand to speak on this project. Taking the science and technology from David Cronenberg films, a biotech start-up seeks to improve humanity by developing PODs (Personal-On-Demands), a recommendation engine. Launching on October 25th, registered participants will be guided through an episodic interactive narrative that functions as a simulator for training their PODs (Personal-On-Demands). Anyone who completes this three-part experience will be guaranteed a unique POD generated from their behaviour during the simulations.

Register for your POD now at


Paul Woolner, Chairman of the Board of ideaBOOST identified ideaBOOST as a business accelerator which assists technology companies navigate an entertainment ecosystem that has been radically disrupted by new technologies and demanding audience expectations. Past successful alumnae from ideaBOOST have included ASAP Science on YouTube and Buffer Festival, for which Founder, Corey Vidal, was present to take questions.

ideaBOOST is currently accepting applications for its third cohort from technology companies, the deadline for which isOctober 11th. For more information, please visit

Lean Content

Barnaby Marshall, Director of Creative Technology at Slaight Music, and CFC Lead on Lean Content delivered a rundown on the project, co-produced with two-time Sundance award winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner and in collaboration with Eric Ries, author of the best-selling book “Lean Startup”. This 10-part online course is designed to help filmmakers, musicians, visual artists and writers survive and thrive in today’s rapidly evolving digital economy. Culled from hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top disruptive entrepreneurs (including the founders of companies like BitTorrent and Pandora) Lean Content provides artists and content creators with best practices, insights and lessons drawn from the experiences of tech world trailblazers. For more information, please visit