Budget Cuts


May 5, 2012

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Kevin McMahon makes the case for the recognition of documentary as Canada's national art form.

Click here to read McMahon's piece for the National Post: The case for making the documentary Canada's official art form


April 27, 2012

Cuts and funding terms put documentary films on hot seat

Article in the Globe and Mail by Guy Dixon (originally published in print)

"'Everything is contingent on broadcasters participating,' [Lisa Fitzgibbons] says. 'And broadcasters are saying, ‘You know what? We’re not interested in this content. Make them look like reality shows.’ ”

Read the article here.


Challenging times at Hot Docs

Article on C21media.net by Sean Davidson

“'These are challenging times for documentaries,' festival MD Brett Hendrie told the crowd at the opening night gala (...)"

Read the article here.


April 26, 2012

Docs Get Action, but Can They Survive?

Article on toronto.com by Peter Howell

''(...)DOC warns we may be 'witnessing the disappearance of a genre.'”

Read the article here.


April 25, 2012

John Kastner on CBC radio's Metro Morning: documentaries an 'Endangerd Species'

Matt Galloway spoke about documentaries with veteran documentary filmmaker, John Kastner. He is being honoured for his body of work at this year's Hot Docs Festival.

listen here.


Funding Cools but Docs Still Hot

Article by June Chua on rabble.ca

"'People keep saying to me 'this is the Golden Age of Documentary,'' sighs Lisa Fitzgibbons, executive director of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC). 'But there's a huge disconnect between what people think and the reality.'"

Read the article here.


April 24, 2012

Peter Raymont appears on CBC's Q with Jian Ghomeshi to talk about his new documentary WEST WIND: The Vision of Tom Thomson and cuts to documentary funding in Canada.

click here to listen to the episode. You must scroll down to the April 24, 2012 entry.


DOC Makers Face Funding Challenges at Home, Acclamations Abroad

Article on Mediacaster

As Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, gets set to open, the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) wants to use the event to identify solutions for the industry’s structural difficulties, and to prevent the disappearance of a genre.

Read the article here.


April 19, 2012

Canadian doc makers slam cutbacks: “We are dropping like flies.”

Article in Playback Online by Adam Benzine

“Any documentary filmmaker will tell you how bad things have become over the last 10 years. We are dropping like flies. We all know experienced award-winning documentary producers who have been forced to abandon the profession for lack of funds. This latest round of cuts will only intensify the purge.''

-Francine Pelletier, Gemini Award-winning documentary maker

Read the article here.


April 23, 2012


Toronto, April 23, 2012 - As audiences prepare to celebrate all things documentary on the eve of Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, filmmakers are sounding the alarm about the state of their industry. The recent budget’s sweeping cuts to Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board of Canada and the CBC, threaten the very core of the Canadian documentary tradition and the existence of a vital cultural expression. The DOCUMENTARY ORGANIZATION OF CANADA (DOC) wonders: “Are we witnessing the disappearance of a genre?”

“Canadian documentary wins awards. It creates jobs. Documentary funding puts far more into the economy than it takes out. Yet, just as Canadians are celebrating our documentary work both at home and abroad, cuts are decimating the documentary industry in the country that created it,” said Katie McKenna, Interim Chair of DOC.

The Canadian documentary production industry has confronted many challenges in the last four years as a result of the termination of the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund and broadcasters pulling back from their commitment to documentary. Still reeling from approximately 1500 full-time equivalent jobs lost in the past two years, the recent budget cuts kick the collective community when it is already down.

•    Telefilm Canada’s cuts include $500,000 in production financing from a total budget of $1 million for the financing of theatrical documentaries.

•    The National Film Board of Canada is facing a $6.68 million cut from its annual budget. Producers’ positions have been cut in the regions and they are reducing a small but critical program, Filmmakers Assistance Program, by 30%.

•    The CBC will lose 10% of its budget — $115 million over three years with the in-house documentary chopping 18 positions from its unit.

These short-sighted cuts occur while Canadian documentaries continue to garner worldwide attention and great acclaim on the world stage. Three Canadian docs screened in Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival: Yung Chang's China Heavyweight, James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot's Indie Game: The Movie, and Jennifer Baichwal's Payback. In addition, just last week the Tribeca Film Festival opened its World Documentary Competition with Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her. The critical role played by these agencies is evidenced by the fact that Payback is an NFB production while China Heavyweight and The World Before Her both received funding from the Telefilm Theatrical Documentary program.

2012 Doc SummitThis is the climate in which filmmakers, producers, broadcasters, policy makers are gathering for the Doc Summit, the annual half-day town hall forum intended to address current obstacles in the documentary industry.  Moderated by Rudy Buttignol, President and CEO, Knowledge Network, the 2012 Doc Summit will take place Friday, May 4, on the last day of the Hot Docs Industry conference. Doc Summit is open to all Hot Docs Industry pass holders.

Through its work at the Summit, DOC aims to identify solutions to overcome the system’s current structural difficulties.

Media Contacts:

Anna Maria Muccilli, A.M. Public Relations: (416) 969-9930 x 231 ([email protected])

Adèle Charlebois, DOC: (416) 599-3844 ext 2 ([email protected])

Download the release here.


DOC issues a press release concerning the 2012 budget cuts and their impact on the documentary industry.

On the Eve of a celebration are documentary filmmakers gathering for a wake?

Read the press release here


Cuts, cuts, cuts everywhere, but what, exactly, is being cut?

The following is excerpted from the listserv in the last few days.




CBC's commitment to independently produced docs remains, given that the corporation included documentary in their latest strategic plan.

The in-house documentary unit is being drastically reduced with 18 positions being cut, but the unit is not being totally eliminated with Mark Starowicz remaining in place.

Commissions are not being replaced with acquisitions and the intention is to maintain current level of commissions.

For the time being it doesn’t appear as though Doc Zone and The Nature of Thing are being cut.


On me dit que Zone doc verra le nombre de docs passer de 18 à 12 cette année. Je n’ai malheureusement pas plus d’information sur les coupures à la SRC.




Of the 73 jobs that are being cut, 3 are producers:

  • Kat Baulu (Montreal)
  • Anne-Marie Rocher (Toronto/French studio)
  • Yves Ma (Vancouver)

The positions will end late September.

In Toronto, out of the 33 jobs that are being cut, 30 are with the Mediatheque.

Also of importance to filmmakers is the cut to FAP/ACIC which issignificant: 30%.

Production budgets were cut by 1% only.

ONF/NFB willcontinue to produce and co-produce and want to continue to be a creationlab.

They have cut their grant programs to festivals but have maintained their support to film coops.




The breakdown of cuts for Year 1 is as follows:

Programs: $1.7 million-Administration: $1 million

Cuts in Year 2 will be $7,9M and more will follow in Year 3.

They are cutting the budget to the Theatrical Documentary Program by 50%. It’s being cut from 1M to 500K.

In order to make up for the shortfall, they are negotiating with two privateinvestors. Madame Brabant said that she is optimistic as to the outcome ofthose talks.

Because they have been in the process of reviewing all of their programs (orhave just finished a program revision, such as the one done with thedevelopment program) and knew that cuts would be coming, they undertookprogram revisions factoring budget cuts.

They started looking at how to make the cuts 18 months ago.

This is why they froze hiring permanent employees a year ago. 30 positionswill be cut over three years, 16 of them being cut in the first year. Of those 16, 11 are currently vacant, or filled by temporary employees.

They tried to protect production budgets as much as possible by cutting asmuch from admin budgets. Their slate approach to development speaks to theefficiencies they’ve trield to build into the operations.Because of changes to the development program, they were able to reduce theoverall cutting target by 700K.

They are cutting the Writers First/Aide à l’écriture program as well as theprogram aimed at stimulating co-pros with countries from la francophonie.

They will be moving away from supporting professional development activities.

DOC HST Number: 13173 9245 RT 0001