As Playback counts down to the end of the year, we’re rolling out our Best Of stories from our Winter 2012 issue. Here, Temple Street’s David Fortier, Ivan Schneeberg and John Young discuss building a diverse production slate and their strategy to broaden their market.
Toronto-based Temple Street Productions found its own recipe to riches in 2012, or at least a good recipe for creating successful factual and scripted properties.
The Recipe to Riches producer saw its branded program, which is sponsored by food giant Loblaw, get picked up for a second season on Shaw’s Food Network Canada (now airing) and its format’s international rights acquired by Fremantle Media. The prodco is also producing the live competition series Over the Rainbow, which has proven to be a steady ratings-earner for CBC this fall.
Temple Street has a busy slate on the scripted side as well, having started production on the teen dance series The Next Step for Family Channel in July. More recently, production began in Toronto on Graeme Manson and John Fawcett’s sci-fi series, Orphan Black, which stars Tatiana Maslany and already has substantial backing from Bell Media, who will carry it on Space, and BBC America.
“It’s a tremendous boost to Temple Street,” John Young, the prodco’s managing director, says of Orphan Black.
“It continues our tradition of developing and producing big budget drama shows. There are only a few of them every year in Canada, and we’re very fortunate,” he adds.
According to Young, building a diverse production slate was Temple Street’s core business strategy entering 2012. To this end, he says the prodco invested heavily in growing its scripted, unscripted, branded and digital teams – the company increased its team by four people in 2012, and plans to hire on five more next year – as opposed to focusing on a particular content niche.
To bolster these efforts, Temple Street also opened an L.A. office – part of a push to broaden the market in which it does business.
“Part of the plan is trying to create a company that operates in a North American marketplace,” Young explains.
“We’re a Canadian company and we’re very proud of it, but realistically, if we want to try to succeed on a wider scale we have to look to the U.S. broadcasters,” he adds.
To attract broadcasters, says David Fortier, one of the company’s two co-presidents, it’s important to pay attention to market trends and to bring something new to the table.
“Trends change, products will come to market and there’s a lot of competition for creating content,” Fortier says. “You’ve got to be first to market. You’ve got to jump on the trends, understand the demands and deliver. If you’ve got the concept and good ideas, broadcasters in Canada and elsewhere are very eager to get great content and get it going quickly,” adds co-president Ivan Schneeberg.
Along with acting quickly, producers must be able to identify which ideas have the potential to get into development or get greenlit, as opposed to sticking with an idea for the long haul and throwing good money after bad.
“We run Temple Street with a very close eye on the margin and cash flow of our business. We need to marry the creative process of the company with its ability to do good business deals,” Schneeberg says.
Looking forward to 2013, Young says Temple Street will continue grow its team, and is even forecasting a “banner year” for the company as it works toward finding ways to deliver in the U.S.
The prodco is also looking to expand its digital and branded offerings, and branch out into programming for preschool audiences. “Our relationship with Family Channel is very strong and we are continuing to explore new content ideas with them,” Young adds.