Decade in Review: CFC’s 10 Biggest Moments of the 2010s

Posted: Dec 9, 2019

The 2010s have been a decade of huge disruption and evolution for the screen entertainment industry – the nature of what we watch, how we watch it, and where we watch it has completely changed. There’s never been more content for viewers to choose from – and there’s never been more opportunities to create content using new technologies. Just as the 2010s have been a period of change for the screen-based industries, so too has it been a time of growth and evolution for the Canadian Film Centre – whose mission is to develop and advance Canadian creative and entrepreneurial talent in said screen-based industries. From the launch of new programs, to unveiling a new building, creating an award, developing groundbreaking content and talent – and more – the CFC has never had a busier decade. Read on for CFC’s 10 biggest moments of the 2010s.

1. CFC Launches The Slaight Family Music Lab (2012)

A group of people pose for a picture - five people sit on a couch, and six people stand behind the couch.

The 2013 Slaight Music residents with Quincy Jones.

In June 2012, CFC launched The Slaight Family Music Lab with the goal of promoting the creation of original Canadian music in film and television as part of the onscreen storytelling process. It felt like a natural evolution of our program offerings – we wanted to celebrate and embrace music, song and score, and their integral role in storytelling. “I believe the marriage of the moving image and music is perhaps the most powerful visual communication we have,” Norman Jewison, CFC Founder and Chair Emeritus, once said. We agree.

“I believe the marriage of the moving image and music is perhaps the most powerful visual communication we have.”

– Norman Jewison

Now, eight years into the Lab, 44 singer/songwriters and/or composers have come through the program. Today, they are working across a variety of formats and are generating some of the most exciting and moving scores and songs heard on screens – think of the music you’ve heard in hit features
Trolls (DreamWorks Animation), The Peanuts Movie (Fox), Ibiza (Netflix) and TV series like Cardinal, Ransom and Bitten, to name a few.

Read more on The Slaight Family Music Lab

2. CFC Media Lab Launches IDEABOOST (2012)

An image of a TV screen with the words "IDEABOOST Network Connect" written on it

CFC Media Lab had been working in the digital media and entertainment industry for 15 years when they saw an opportunity to support technology-based media and entertainment products, services and brands in a new and innovative way. They saw a need for
company sustainability support services as most grants/loans/investments at the time were project-based. “In essence, we saw a gap in the market and CFC Media Lab moved in to provide a much-needed solution,” explains Ana Serrano, CFC Media Lab founder. “So, we created IDEABOOST – Canada’s only vertical accelerator program for the digital media and entertainment industry. Our move to do this reflected growth trends associated with this industry. According to PWC, the media and entertainment sector is poised to create $2.4 trillion in total global revenues by 2022.”

IDEABOOST was launched in 2012, and has since supported dozens of startups through its programming. It has become the go-to home for startup founders in the digital media and entertainment industry in Canada. What’s more, the program has also worked to ensure that public agencies involved in Canada’s broader innovation strategy understand the value of this sector and that digital media and entertainment is a wealth generator in Southern Ontario. “We can’t underscore the importance of being
FedDev’s first client in the media and entertainment sector. Showing Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada how digital media and entertainment create jobs, products, sales and global influence is terribly important as Canada moves from a resource-based industry toward an economy that is based on “intangibles” or IP,” added Serrano.

Learn more about IDEABOOST

3. CFC Features Helps Produce Critically Acclaimed Film, Molly Maxwell (2013)

Molly Maxwell was the 19th feature film production that was developed and financed through CFC Features. It is a humorous coming-of-age drama about a 16-year-old’s ill-advised romance with her young English teacher, created by a team of talented CFC alumni: writer/director Sara St. Onge, producers John Nadalin, Aeschylus Poulos and Mark van de Ven,editor Stephen Philipson, starring Actors Conservatory alumnus Charlie Carrick.

We are wildly proud of this film – both because it’s a beautiful and well-crafted film, but also because “it handles a really complicated subject so perfectly and in really unexpected and unique ways,” shared Justine Whyte, the film’s Executive Producer and director of CFC Features.

“Seek out this sweet, hilarious and unsung delight that in many ways was ahead of its time.”

– Radheyan Simonpillai
  NOW Magazine

It’s safe to say that we are not the only ones who appreciate this feature – NOW Magazine recently named it one of “
The 10 best Toronto movies of the 2010s decade,” claiming it to be a “sweet, hilarious and unsung delight that in many ways was ahead of its time,” and The Globe and Mail heralded the film as “refreshingly candid; a fresh look at the callow girl/older man scenario.”

Check it out for yourself – watch
Molly Maxwell on iTunes, Google Play, or YouTube.

Read more about Molly Maxell in 
The Globe and Mail’s interview with Sara St. Onge.

4. CFC Incubates Hit Sci-Fi Series, Travelers (2014)

Five people pose for a promo shot for the TV series 'Travelers'


You know the hit sci-fi, time-travelling TV series
Travelers, starring Eric McCormack? It was developed here at the CFC. After being conceived in the mind of creator Brad Wright, the series began its development in the story room of the 2014 Prime Time TV Program. Wright was the program’s Executive Producer in Residence that year, and worked with the 2014 residents – Tara Armstrong, Mika Collins, Seth Cooperman, Rebecca Hales, Gillian Muller, Ashley Park, Pat Smith, Amanda Smith-Kolic and Jason Whiting – for 10 weeks creating content for the series. Together, they developed nine episodes, eight of which ended up in Season 1, which premiered on Showcase in October 2016 and landed on Netflix later that year. The series ultimately ran for three seasons and developed a strong fanbase worldwide.

Read more about
Travelers’ roots at CFC here. Watch it on Netflix

5. CFC Hands Out the Inaugural CFC Award for Creative Excellence (2014)

Two people stand at a podium, one hands the other an award

CFC Founder Norman Jewison presents Christina Jennings with the 2018 CFC Award for Creative Excellence. Photo by Jesse Grant.

CFC is committed to championing our alumni long after they leave our doors. So, in 2014 we introduced the
CFC Award for Creative Excellence to celebrate the accomplishments of CFC alumni who have made significant creative and entrepreneurial contributions to the international screen industry. Since the award’s inception, we’ve honoured award-winning writers/showrunners/executive producers Amy and Tassie Cameron of Cameron Pictures (2019); visionary producer Christina Jennings of Shaftesbury (2018); writer/director/producer Clement Virgo and producer Damon D’Oliveira of Conquering Lion Pictures (2017); award-winning writer/director/actor Don McKellar (2016); celebrated Orphan Black creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett (2015); and Emmy®-nominated and WGA Award-winning writer/producer/director Semi Chellas (2014). Who will be honoured next? Stay tuned to to find out.

6. CFC Unveils Northern Dancer Pavilion (2014)

A building in the fall, with yellow leaves on the ground on the building's front terrace

Over the years, as CFC has continued to expand its slate of programs, our campus (on the historic
Windfields Estate) required new space for us to host our program activities. In 2013, we began construction on the Northern Dancer Pavilion, which would become a landmark building used to house our suite of program offerings. The building was unveiled in 2014; its completion marked the end of five years of extensive renovations and improvements and the restoration of our heritage campus as a cultural landmark and Ontario Heritage Site. The building is named after Canadian racehorse legend Norther Dancer, who was kept at Windfields Estate on occasion, when it was home to celebrated Canadian philanthropist, entrepreneur and breeder of thoroughbred race horses, Edward Plunket (E. P.) Taylor.

The Northern Dancer Pavilion was designed by Ken Fukushima to complement the heritage of the original buildings on Windfields Estate. It is now used primarily to house our Actors Conservatory workshops and activities and as a venue for our major fundraising events such as the
CFC Annual BBQ Fundraiser. Read more about the Northern Dancer Pavilion here.

7. Actors Conservatory Alumni Breakout Internationally

Four people, dressed in elegant clothes, sit in the back of a pickup truck and pose for a picture

L-R: Annie Murphy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Dan Levy in ‘Schitt’s Creek’

CFC launched its now renowned Actors Conservatory – Canada’s first professional level program for onscreen acting talent – in 2008. Within less than a decade of its existence, alumni of the program began breaking out internationally – appearing on screens the world over. Like in January 2015, when
Annie Murphy, a 2013 Actors Conservatory alumna, first starred as Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek – what would become a multiple-award-winning and Emmy-nominated series that has gained a fanbase around the world.

Also in 2015, a fellow 2013 alumnus,
Giacomo Giannotti, would appear as a guest star on season 11 of hit series Grey’s Anatomy as surgical intern Dr. Andrew DeLuca. The following year, he would become a series regular, a role which continues into Season 17, expected to air in September 2020.

Fast forward to 2019, when
Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, a 2017 alumna, would appear on small screens across the world in three different roles on acclaimed series; Sam Duchene in Cardinal, Lilith on Netflix’s horror-drama The Order, and as Sam Black Crow on American Gods.

These are but a few of the examples of CFC actors breaking out internationally – we look forward to seeing where our actors will appear in the next decade.

8. CFC Media Lab Looks to the Future with Immersive Media Strategy (2016)

The words Pulse on VR written in green on a blue background

Anticipating the transformation and economic investment potential of immersive media entertainment, in 2016 CFC Media Lab began implementing a multi-pronged immersive media strategy – consisting of co-productions of VR experiences, ecosystem leadership, programming for immersive media creatives, and industry reports and data collection/analysis of the immersive media ecosystem in Canada. Here’s a look at some of our innovative work in immersive media:

  • Pulse on VR: A Living Ecosystem, a study of the Canadian Virtual Reality (VR) ecosystem, was launched by CFC Media Lab and OMERS Ventures in collaboration with Nordicity in 2016. The first round of results was released in 2017 and today it continues to survey the rapidly evolving world of immersive media in Canada.
  • CFC Media Lab is the presenting sponsor of Virtual Reality Pulse, a customized newsletter on the immersive media industries – AR, VR and XR. Subscribers receive a customized feed of articles, blog posts and trending sources. You can sign up for a daily newsletter here.
  • CFC Media Lab has developed groundbreaking digital and VR productions, interactive activations and innovative transmedia experiences. Some examples include Mother of the Forest, Small Wonders: The VR Experience, and Made This Way: Redefining Masculinity. Learn about these productions (and more) here.
  • Also in 2016, CFC Media Lab partnered with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to launch Open Immersion – a VR creative documentary lab. The second iteration of the program, Open Immersion II, was announced in October, and will run throughout 2020.

9. CFC Celebrates 30th Anniversary (2018)

Four people stand around a cake atop a cocktail table smiling and laughing

L-R: Christina Jennings, CFC Board Chair, Chairman and CEO, Shaftesbury; Slawko Klymkiw, CEO, CFC; Norman Jewison, CFC Founder and Chair Emeritus; and Lynne St. David-Jewison, with the CFC’s 30th anniversary cake. Photo by Tom Sandler.

In 1988, CFC opened its doors as a centre for advanced film studies with one program attended by 12 residents. Thirty years later, it had evolved into one of Canada’s leading cultural institutions for the development and advancement of Canadian creative and entrepreneurial talent in the screen-based industries. We are supported by 40 staff and offer a suite of programs and initiatives spanning film and television, screen acting, composing and songwriting for the screen, and digital and immersive media.

In 2018, we celebrated our 30th anniversary and 30 years of excellence in storytelling, of inspiring Canadian content creators and of empowering emerging talent. Through our unique programs and initiatives, we are proud to have accelerated the careers, companies and content of more than 1,800 alumni and 200 alumni companies. Among them are some of the most prolific and celebrated creators and entrepreneurs working in the Canadian and international entertainment industries, who enrich our global cultural landscape. Here’s to the next 30 years!

Want to know more about CFC’s history? Here’s a piece on
30 things you didn’t know about the CFC.

10. CFC Partners with Netflix (2018)

Poster images of various Netflix productions with the words "Netflix & CFC" written overtop

In 2018, CFC and Netflix proudly announced the start of their partnership in support of Canadian talent. The Netflix/CFC Global Project partnership seeks to create opportunities for diverse Canadian creators in the screen industry by advancing their film/TV projects in the international marketplace. We’re just getting started on this amazing initiative and look forward to sharing some of its outcomes in the early years of the next decade – stay tuned!

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