Journey of an NFB Project

The journey of an NFB project includes five major phases, which may vary based on the project’s form and on unit-specific procedures. However, for all projects, creators have access to first-rate technical services to support, guide and enhance their creative process. In addition, creators are compensated across every phase of production.


Submit your project to the relevant production unit to initiate discussions with the NFB team (see Propose a Project).



If a producer from an NFB studio expresses interest in your project, they may decide to initiate an “investigate”—an additional research phase that offers a unique opportunity at the NFB to mature a project without the burden of hard and fixed deadlines or deliverables.

Producers require the approval of their executive producer to begin an investigate.

There are any number of reasons for an investigate. For example, the project may fit well with studio objectives, but its feasibility needs to be examined; or the producer may want to work with a specific filmmaker on a given subject, but the project specifics require more in-depth research.

DELIVERABLE: At the end of this phase, creators are under contract to submit an investigate report. This is a written and/or visual document detailing the results of the research and updated ideas for moving on to the development phase.


The producer selects projects to move on to development, with approval by the unit’s executive producer. This research and writing phase is intended to answer all pending pre-production questions. It also consists of creating a final work plan, timetable and budget for the project, in partnership with the creative team. The development phase is generally when key creative and technical staff are brought on board.

The producer also begins discussing project audience, impact and marketing strategies with the NFB’s distribution and marketing teams (project profile, distribution and launch goals).

Marketing managers provide key recommendations on market and media trends, competition, audience behaviour and strategic opportunities. All projects under development are also explored collaboratively in a strategic programming forum among studios to ensure that our productions, while distinct and diverse, are cohesive across the institution.

DELIVERABLES: Depending on the project’s form, this may be a proposal, creative treatment, script, or a recorded demo. For animated films and interactive works, this includes an animatic, visual sketches, storyboard, interactive experience proposal, experience flow(s), sound direction, technological architecture plan (front end and back end), and an audiovisual demo or interactive prototype.


This phase encompasses any further planning and preparation, along with the production itself and post-production. The production phase for all projects is triggered by the producer and executive producer when development has been deemed complete and the DG greenlights the project to release the funds.

All NFB productions are supported by in-house technical, production and administrative teams. Filmmakers work in Montreal with our internal technical services team or with local post houses, depending on availability and project needs. For our animation projects in Montreal, the work is done at our Montreal studios, which builds a creative community of support, exchange and collaboration around the project and provides opportunities to meet other creators in your field.

Throughout production, you will also work closely with the marketing manager. During this phase and prior to launch, they act as a liaison, offer advice and, as production advances, stay in close touch with you to prepare the film for market.

DELIVERABLE: Finished film or interactive project.


In addition to being a producer, the NFB is a public distributor and is responsible for promoting and distributing our works—first and foremost to Canadian audiences, but also to the rest of the world. The Programming | Creation, Distribution and Marketing division works to recommend and roll out carefully planned release strategies for all projects.

Each strategy is customized and takes into consideration the project’s goals, including audience impact and engagement and distribution objectives. The marketing manager plays a pivotal role in this process and builds close relationships with creators so that there are ongoing opportunities to share ideas, insights and knowledge that will help our teams properly position the project and develop an optimal and integrated deployment plan.

Marketing managers develop all the assets needed to support these plans and stay abreast of industry trends and standards. Ultimately, our teams strive to develop a launch sequence that maximizes impact, boosts the project’s profile and connects powerfully with Canadian audiences.

As a public distributor, our mandate and expertise lie in bringing each project and each story to its intended audience. We have a deep understanding of Canadian audiences, and we are committed to connecting with them while also creating opportunities for Canadian stories and excellence to be celebrated internationally.

Marketing managers and distribution staff, along with the producers and creators, continue to actively support a project throughout its release. This support is strategically tailored to each project but can include numerous touchpoints for engagement and impact, including festival tours, community screenings, broadcast launches, theatrical runs, online launches, special events, international sales opportunities and more. At each step, we consider the type of audience we want to reach, where they are located (physically and ideologically) and their viewing habits.

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