Telefilm Talent to Watch Program

(formerly the Microbudget program)

SAW Video's deadline: Friday February 14th, 2020

SAW Video is a designated partner for Telefilm's Talent to Watch program (formerly the Micro-Budget Production program) that supports the production, digital distribution and promotion of a first feature-length film or other format of narrative-based audiovisual content made specifically for online distribution.   The Talent Fund-supported Talent to Watch Program (formerly Micro-Budget Production Program) finances emerging content creators who are recent alumni of a partner educational institution, active members of partner cooperatives or recent participants of partner film festival incubator initiative, or who have directed a short film that was selected at a recognized film festival. The program also provides automatic funding to projects directed by an emerging director having previously directed a short film that has won a prize at a recognized film festival.

Overview of the program

The Talent to Watch Program – Funding of First Feature Films and Web Projects from Emerging Filmmakers aims to support emerging filmmakers, accelerate their career development, and to allow them to develop an expertise in digital marketing and promotion of audiovisual projects.

The maximum contribution amount through this program is $125,000 for feature films and narrative-based projects of over 75 minutes. Support under this Program is provided through three separate streams: the Selective Stream, the Festival Selection Stream and the Fast Track Stream.

Selective stream:
Financing will be given to projects chosen among those recommended by designated industry partners for each component of the Program. The different components are:

  • Main component
  • Indigenous component
  • Official-Language Minority Communities (OLMC) component

SAW Video is a recommender for both the Main and Indigenous components in the Selective Stream only.

Festival Selection Stream:
Financing will be given to projects chosen among submitted films directed by an emerging director having previously directed a short film that was selected at a recognized film festival (see the list of recognized film festivals in documents below). Funding under this stream is not automatic.

Fast Track Stream:
Automatic financing will be given to projects directed by an emerging director having previously directed a short film that has won a prize at a recognized film festival (see the list of recognized film festivals in documents below)

The main eligibility criteria under all three streams is:

Key members of the creative teams of all submitted projects must be emerging talent: they must have previously produced, directed and/or written at least one short film  but cannot have previously held the same key position in a feature length film.

Additional eligibility criteria apply to each separate stream. Please consult the guidelines for the complete description of the eligibility criteria under this Program.

For Guidelines /FAQs click here

Telefilm’s Evaluation Criteria
Projects will be evaluated on:
  • the quality of the track record of the creative team;
  • the quality and originality of the creative materials submitted;
  • the understanding of the marketplace for the project and the innovativeness of the promotion and distribution strategy;
  • the feasibility and level of production readiness of the project.

English, French or an Indigenous language that are either:

  • feature length films of 75 minutes or more; or
  • any other type of narrative-based audiovisual content made in a format specifically designed for online audiences. These types of projects can be comprised of one or more segments which, in total, must be more than 10 minutes in length.
  • All projects must be distributed on one or more digital platforms and must be completed within 18 months of receipt of an invitation to apply from Telefilm. No theatrical distribution is required under this Program.
Please note that there is no maximum or minimum budget amounts but Telefilm expects budgets for feature films to be between $125,000 and $250,000. The average budget amount for narrative-based web projects will vary based on the total duration of the project but should generally not exceed $20,000 for a full 10 minute segment.

MAIN COMPONENT ELIGIBILITY: ALL key members (writer, director, producer) must be emerging talent, i.e. they must already have produced, directed and/or written at least one short film (30 minutes or less) but must not have produced, directed, or written a feature length film (75 minutes or more).

All key members must also be active members of SAW Video at the time of application. Active members are people who have participated in workshops, programs and/or other training initiatives offered by the SAW Video in the last three years measured from the date of recommendation to Telefilm under this Program.

ABORIGINAL COMPONENT ELIGIBILITY: SAW Video is also a partner for the Aboriginal component.  key members do not have to be active members of SAW Video but must be self-identified Aboriginals and be emerging talent

Your application to SAW Video must include:

1) A completed screenplay;

2) Presentation video: a downloadable pitch video of a maximum of 5 minutes that will:


  • state the project’s working title;
  • identify the genre, the type, and the length of the project;
  • identify the key creative team involved in the project and their individual track records (including samples of past work if applicable or relevant);
  • provide a brief synopsis of the story from beginning to end;
  • outline the creative team’s vision/visual treatment of the material;
  • outline any other relevant information that sets the project apart (e.g.: personal connection to the story material, confirmed appearance by an established actor, successful crowdfunding campaign, relationship with VFX professionals or animators);
  • identify the target audience;
  • include 1-minute segment of the director’s previous short films;

Note: the video must NOT include footage from other projects that are not the team’s own work.

3) Supporting material: the documents listed below must be uploaded as pdf:

  • Synopsis of the project, maximum of 750 words, which includes the main story developments, and tells the basic story from beginning to end;
  • Director’s vision (up to three pages in length);
  • A promotion and distribution plan (up to two pages in length) which identifies the project’s audience (age, sex, sensibility, culture, etc.). It must also identify how the team will find and access this audience and why will they connect with the project;
  • Creative team Filmography (producer, writer and director): submit a filmography using the template available on the Website, which will indicate training, education, experience, accolades, outline past projects and history of team collaboration;
  • A production schedule (from pre-production to digital release) that will ensure completion of the project within 24 months of the receipt of Telefilm’s invitation to apply, as described below;
  • The budget top sheet for the project (see template available on Telefilm’s website);
  • Up to one page detailing any other information that sets this project apart (e.g.: personal connection to the story material, successful crowdfunding campaign, confirmed cameo or role by a well-established actor, established fan base on social media);
  • Projects submitted under the Indigenous component and all other projects with Indigenous content shall address the issue of how the team sought to engage the various Indigenous communities that will be impacted by the project. Suitable means of achieving this may include the following, as applicable: letters of support from the community, letters of support from Indigenous advisors, contracts between the communities and the creative team for the project, community engagement plans, etc.

4) a link to previous work.


To submit your application, please send by email the required documents (PDFs only please) and links to your video pitch and support material by Friday February 14th, 2020 at 11:59pm to .  Please put Telefilm Talent to Watch Program Application in the subject heading of your email and please specify whether you are submitting to the Main Component or the Aboriginal Component.

SAW Video contact :
Annette Hegel, Director
613 238-7648