The Pitch Program is offered by the Indigenous Screen Office (“ISO”) in partnership with Amazon Studios, and supporting partner, the Black Screen Office (“BSO”).
This program awards grants of CAD$10,000 to ten (10) Canadian Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (“BIPOC”) screen-content creators for pitch development of eligible English-language scripted and unscripted series. The 10 selected projects will receive online preparatory resources from Amazon Studios to assist with pitch development and will be given the opportunity to pitch their projects to Amazon Studios and receive guidance from Amazon Studios executives.
Please note that the showrunner/lead writer for the project must be a BIPOC individual, and the must have ownership of the Intellectual Property.
Applications must be completed in the ISO portal here: http://bit.ly/ISOAmazonPitchProgramForm and submitted by March 5, 2021 at 5:00pm PST. Late submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances.
Please note that submissions will not be returned and that we cannot provide any feedback to unsuccessful applicants.
ISO, BSO and Amazon Studios do not take responsibility for applications that are not submitted on time due to internet issues or technical problems.
This will be a peer-assessment process, with applications assessed based on the following criteria:
- Project Idea and Description
- Team and Experience
- Viability and Alignment with the Pitch Program Guidelines (“Guidelines”).
The Pitch Program provides BIPOC creators with the opportunity to showcase their diverse and unique talent. Projects must feel authentically, specifically, and inextricably Canadian. Simply being set in Canada is not enough; the series must be impossible to set elsewhere, and the subject matter, themes, characters, plots, etc. should comment on what it means to be Canadian today. Projects should show an array of points of view on “Canadian-ness,” from all genders, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, immigration statuses, and much more.
Your series idea is expected to be at a substantial state of development.
- Scripted series targeting Young Adults (ages 16-30)
- Scripted series set in cities
- Voice-driven comedies or dramedies (scripted series)
- Access-driven, unique perspective documentary series (unscripted series)
All SCRIPTED series projects must be 30-minute episodes and ongoing (not limited) series.
All UNSCRIPTED series projects can be 30-minute, 45-minute or 60-minute episodes, and either ongoing or limited series.
Note: The following scripted series genres are not eligible for the Pitch Program:
INELIGIBLE SCRIPTED PROJECTS
- Children’s Series
- Sketch Comedy
- Soap Operas
- Period Settings
- Hard Sci-Fi/Fantasy
- Crime Dramas
- Limited Series
- Short Films
- Multi-camera Comedies
Scripted series must be for 30-minute episodic, ongoing series only. Eligible genres/themes include Young Adult (ages 16-30) series, projects set in cities, and voice-driven comedies or dramedies along the lines of FLEABAG or UNDONE. Horror, thrillers, adult animation, and dramas are also eligible, must feel edgy, contemporary, grounded, and premium; not soft, broad, or melodramatic. Ineligible genres include procedurals, children’s series, sketch comedy, soap operas, period settings, hard sci-fi/fantasy, crime dramas, limited series, features, and multi-camera comedies.
Unscripted series may be 30-minute, 45-minute and/or 60-minute and ongoing or limited. Unscripted series must have unique perspectives, never-before-seen content, exclusive access and bold ideas that are not derivative of existing unscripted shows (ie., not simply setting or recasting an existing format in Canada).
Eligible genres include adventure travel shows and political documentaries. Themes should include “hyperlocal” Canadian stories, talent and subject matter that resonate with and appeal directly to the Canadian audience. Character-driven docu-follows (i.e. ALL OR NOTHING: TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS) and investigative / true crime docs (i.e. LORENA) must secure exclusive access to the intellectual property, talent, team, and/or organization in question.
For example, if an applicant were to pitch a behind-the-scenes docuseries following the Toronto Maple Leafs, they would need to have already secured the access/attachment to capturing the Leafs team. Pitches in the vein of TV unscripted formats (i.e. LOL: LAST ONE LAUGHING MEXICO & AUSTRALIA) must demonstrate unique twists and clearly differentiate themselves from similar existing shows in the marketplace. Projects should be fresh and revolutionary, contain unprecedented access to the subject(s), and drive urgency to view (“must watch now” programming).
A maximum of 10 projects will be selected by representatives of Amazon Studios and a jury of BIPOC screen-content professionals coordinated by the ISO and the BSO. Each of the project teams will receive a grant of CAD$10,000 for development of their pitch and each will take part in a two-day pitch event held in early April 2021. Five pitches will be held on each day; pitch participants will each have 45 minutes to pitch their project to executives from Amazon Studios. Teams will present for approximately 20 minutes maximum with the remainder of the time reserved for the questions and answers. Due to continued pandemic restrictions, the pitch will be conducted via video conference; the ISO will provide details to the selected teams.
Please note, being selected for the pitch day event does not guarantee that your project will advance to further development with Amazon Studios. The ISO, the BSO or its outreach partners do not have any influence or decision-making in advancing any pitch to further development with Amazon Studios.
- Applicants must be Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), Black, or a Person of Colour;
- Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent Canadian residents;. ∙ It is preferable that eligible applicants be based in Canada, however, Canadian citizens living outside of Canada are eligible to apply;
- Applicants must have reached the legal age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence, which can be 18 or 19 depending on the province/territory;
- Project leads must own the rights/intellectual property for their idea;
- Series ideas must be available for acquisition and have no existing development or production commitments;
- Applicants are only eligible to apply with one submission to this program;
- Employees, representatives and agents of Amazon Studios, the Indigenous Screen Office and the Black Screen Office, members of the jury and persons living within their households are not eligible to apply to the Pitch Program.
Individual Applicants: Please be advised the Canada Revenue Agency considers grants as taxable income. Please keep all expense receipts related to this grant to offset your tax obligations.
The following requirements must be adhered to. Failure to include any required element or failure to adhere to specified formats will result in your application being ruled ineligible.
Your application must include the following: *Please note that links to these downloadable forms will be available by Wednesday, February 9th.
- Completed Application Form
- Completed Attestation Form 3. Amazon Submissions Release Form*
- One-Page (max) series pitch treatment (PDF)
- Biographies for lead creatives, clearly identifying their role in the project (PDF)
- Script writing sample: The pitching writer must submit a TV script sample hour or half hour, feature film, or play.
*All applicants are required to review, sign, and submit the Amazon Submissions Release Form. Please read this release form in advance of completing the application. Applications that do not have a signed Submissions Release Form will not be accepted.
- It is recommended that you do not include pictures, mood boards, videos, or other visuals in your submission or in your pitch. Your efforts should focus on the pilot structure and pitch outline identified below. Videos or any visuals will not be included in the pitch day event.
- You are not required and not requested to submit a series bible or a pilot script (this will not be part of the assessment process).
PITCH DAY REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS
Successful applicants for scripted series must adhere to the following specific requirements for the structure of the pilot script for scripted series during the pitch day event. The pitch team should also be able to speak clearly to each of these elements in their pitch presentation if selected.
Pilot Structure Guide for Scripted Series
There should be an A, B and C plot in the pilot.
A plot: Story of the week. This is a closed-ended story usually dealing with the “business or franchise of the series.”
B plot: Ongoing serialized plot line for our main character that goes over the course of the season. This should be something that builds throughout the season with twists and turns. Two Essential Questions to answer within B Plot:
- Why start the story now?
Most importantly there should be an inciting incident that happens
at the top of the pilot to our main character that is out of their
control – i.e. Tony Soprano having an anxiety attack in Sopranos, or
Walter White gets lung cancer. What happens to our lead
character early on?
This incident makes the lead character decide to do something i.e. Tony goes to see a Shrink; Walter decides to sell Crystal Meth.
This decision is what springs the plot of the series into action. It
moves the character’s life in a new direction. It’s also why the pilot story starts now versus another time in the story.
- What does our lead decide to do?
This is what the series will be about.
C plot: Closed-ended story in the pilot that revolves around a secondary character whose plot has nothing to do with the A or B plot.
The pilot episode needs a theme that connects all three plotlines.
Make sure to end the pilot with a surprise or twist that the audience does not see coming so that they are compelled to watch episode two.
Successful applicants must prepare and deliver their presentation in accordance with the following format:
Pitch Outline Format
INTRO – Explain what inspired this project, why you specifically feel connected to it, and why now. (2 – 3 minutes)
THE WORLD / GROUND THE LISTENER – Give a very clear grounding statement at the top of the pitch so they know exactly what they are about to listen to. For example, “this is a character-driven, serialized cable comedy (or drama) about XXXXXXX.” Include a broad introduction to the world the show lives in. (2 – 3 minutes)
THE PILOT / PILOT BEATS – Broad stroke the events in the rest of the pilot. Introduce each character briefly as they appear in the pilot story (not in a separate “characters” section). The beats of the pilot story should set up the emotional and thematic arc of the lead character, the story-of-the-week plot, and a secondary character(s)’s storyline. (5 – 7 minutes)
SEASON ONE ARCS – Map out where your main two or three characters’ plotlines will go during the first season, and where they will each find themselves by the end of season one. (2 – 3 minutes)
SUBSEQUENT SEASONS / SERIES ARCS – Discuss what future episodes of your show will look, where you want to go in series, potential storylines, character arcs and entanglements. (2 – 3 minutes)
TONE / RELEVANCY – Make sure you have clearly established the tone of your show by including a few tonal comparisons – mention a movie, or a show or two. Discuss the relevance in terms of today’s cultural or political climate. (1 minute)
WHO SHOULD PITCH
The series writer must be the one to lead the pitch and up to three (3) series producers can join. No agents, friends, proposed subjects, or others can take part in the pitch.
PITCH DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT
The 10 projects selected for the pitch days will receive online preparatory resources from Amazon Studios to assist with pitch development. The ISO will share these resources with the selected teams.
ACCESSIBILITY AND ACCOMMODATION
If you have barriers to access including but not limited to language, internet or physical barriers, please contact the ISO to determine appropriate accommodations and potential Application Assistance support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If at any time, an applicant, as required by the Eligibility Criteria or as requested by the ISO, provides false information or omits material information in connection with an application, the applicant may suffer serious consequences. These may include, among other outcomes:
- Loss of eligibility for future funding
- Repayment of any funds already advanced
- Criminal prosecution, in the case of fraud
These measures may be imposed not only on the applicant but also on related, associated and affiliated companies and individuals (as determined by the ISO at its sole discretion). Any applicant receiving approval for funding will be required to sign a legally enforceable agreement, which includes further provisions concerning misrepresentations, defaults, and related matters.
Questions are encouraged at least two weeks prior to the application date and may be directed at any time to email@example.com.