Getting Real 5: An Economic Profile of the Canadian Documentary Production Industry

This report provides “an in-depth look at the state of Canadian documentary production up to the end of 2010/11 in both the English- and French- language markets”. Many challenges related to documentary production are highlighted in the report. Most significantly, “Canadian documentary production is facing its steepest decline in production volume in almost a decade”, with a 21% decrease in production value and a 23% decrease in the number of documentary projects between 2008/09 and 2010/11.

Other challenges include the loss of documentary funding programs and media consolidation in Canada, which “has challenged the Canadian documentary funding model”. The report also points to difficulties in defining a documentary production, with issues around “reality”, “lifestyle”, and “current affairs” programming.

Almost all English-language documentaries are done for television production (98%), and television’s share is also very high for French-language documentaries (87%). Despite the dominance of TV, “conventional broadcasters in both the English- and French-language markets broadcast on average less than two hours of Canadian documentary programming on a weekly basis”. Specialty TV stations tend to program more documentaries.

The positive news in the report is that audience demand for documentaries is strong, and there are some new means of financing available to documentary filmmakers. In particular, crowdfunding is seen as “an interesting new option for content producers” but “not a panacea for the Canadian industry’s funding challenges”.

Summary: 

This report provides “an in-depth look at the state of Canadian documentary production up to the end of 2010/11 in both the English- and French- language markets”. Many challenges related to documentary production are highlighted in the report. Most significantly, “Canadian documentary production is facing its steepest decline in production volume in almost a decade”, with a 21% decrease in production value and a 23% decrease in the number of documentary projects between 2008/09 and 2010/11.