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How do you ensure Heritage Minutes are factually accurate?
We work closely with expert consultants on a variety of subjects on all Heritage Minute productions. That includes experts in everything from clothing styles in a certain period to the manner in which people spoke and conducted themselves. These experts guide us on research, provide historical context and, most importantly, help ensure factual accuracy and cultural sensitivity. Once development begins on a new Heritage Minute, a team of academic and community consultants are hired, each with expertise relevant to the topic. Whenever possible, consultants are chosen from within the community on which the Heritage Minute is focused. Consultants fact-check and review all aspects of the production, including the initial scripts, on-set elements such as props, wardrobe and sets, and post-production deliverables. Community consultants and consultants who had personal connections to the subjects might also consult on things like accurate casting, dialogue, actions, and mannerisms.
What is the selection process for production teams?
A five-member committee reviews and grades each submission based on concepts, plan, portfolio and experience, and budget. Scores are averaged and the top 5 are selected for interviews by the committee. We consider it an asset when teams have both narrative storytelling experience as well as client work. We examine the proposed team to determine if there has been past collaboration among crew members, what kind of work has been created together, and if the work fits with the tone of our brand as well as the needs of upcoming topics. It is crucial that teams demonstrate they can tell an engaging story that hits on key historical points while evoking emotion and drama. When reviewing pitches, we ask ourselves: can this story be told in one minute? Does this story hit on the key themes? Does the concept narrowly focus on one moment? We also value budget breakdowns that consider contingency costs, include taxes, English and French versioning, and are consistent and feasible with the proposed treatment.
Are a selected team’s pitches always chosen for production?
When we select a team, we may choose one of the stories they have pitched for production, or we may ask them if they are interested in and equipped to produce another topic, which we have identified. In other cases, we select a team to produce a Heritage Minute on a particular theme and we research and select topics together.
How is diversity and inclusion considered when selecting a production team?
We are committed to ensuring diversity and representation within our selected teams. We have developed diversity and inclusion policy for the Heritage Minutes program, which contains an inclusion rider stipulating hiring practices for our selected production teams. This policy was developed by consulting documents and resources provided by film industry experts to ensure we are reflecting current industry best practices on diversity and inclusion in our own policies. These resources include Pathways and Protocols: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Working with Indigenous People, Culture and Concepts provided by the Indigenous Screen Office and The Producers Pledge.
How do you distribute Requests for Proposals to ensure you reach BIPOC candidates and members of other communities whose stories have often not been told from their perspective?
Our calls for proposals are distributed on Merx, through our social media channels as well as on job boards and to over 50 arts and culture organizations across Canada.
We actively reach out to our network of BIPOC filmmakers, production companies, film festivals, and film organizations to ensure our Requests for Proposals reach as many candidates as possible. We follow similar steps for other communities whose stories we are proposing to produce.
Do you ever revisit the old Heritage Minutes?
We do. Our understanding of history continuously evolves as we listen, learn and examine more about our past. History is shaped by the culture in which it is told, so we must continually reconsider it as more voices and views of the past are brought forward. We encourage dialogue and discussion about the Heritage Minutes. The 60-second format of the Minutes has always been a great strength, but also posed great challenges. The short format allows us to draw viewers into stories and topics to which they might not otherwise be exposed, but it also means that our work can’t stop there. Especially where we feel values have shifted, we ensure that we provide additional resources through our other programs, including articles on The Canadian Encyclopedia and as well as education guides produced for classroom use, alongside Minutes. We also consider what additional context we can provide through new technologies. We will continue to expand our approach to the Minutes through community consultations and feedback from Canadians.
What is the selection process when choosing topics?
Topics come to us from various sources including our own internal research, suggestions from the public and pitches from filmmakers during the RFP (Request for Proposal) process. Proposals for new Heritage Minutes are discussed and selected by a five-member committee who evaluate the strengths of each subject while considering how various topics serve to fill gaps we have identified within the collection. We explore a broad range of subjects and voices, with particular interest in lesser-known or overlooked stories. We also consider proposals that speak to contemporary issues and conversations, as well as topics that mark significant anniversaries in order to make the past more relevant to our audiences. Heritage Minutes are a legacy project. We therefore work within a guideline that topics should be set at least 20 years in the past. As a general rule, we do not make Minutes about living people.
Do you work with film unions?
Heritage Minutes are union productions. We have agreements with both ACTRA and l’Union des Artistes, to employ union talent. The Director’s Guild of Canada is engaged in our projects if the selected project director is a member.
What are you looking for when it comes to visual treatment?
We want to retain the dramatic elements of the Heritage Minutes while enhancing them with visual language that today’s more sophisticated viewers expect. That could include the incorporation of CGI, animation, or a more fast-paced editing style. While we have incorporated archival material in previous Minutes (for example, the photo at the end of Edmonton Grads), we are not seeking to make it a central element of new Minutes.
Where can I send suggestions for a Heritage Minute?
Suggestions may be sent to email@example.com. We also welcome suggestions through Historica Canada’s social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. When submitting a topic for consideration, please keep in mind that a Heritage Minute takes approximately 12 months from conception to public release.
Do you have any advice for production teams wanting to pitch ideas?
We suggest watching the Heritage Minute collection to familiarize yourself with what stories have already been told. Watch the new Minutes to get a sense of the visual language we are hoping to express. Consider how your treatment could focus on one single moment while still encapsulating the key theme of the topic or story. Consider how you would address bilingualism, or how you would budget creatively. Consider as well how the story you pitch offers a missing perspective or fills in a blank in our collective history.