In 2009, the National Film Board of Canada turned 70 years old. And it celebrated this milestone as any senior citizen should… by regaining its youth, digitally. A survey of the NFB’s approach to developing and distributing digital content over the past two years paints this Canuck elder as a nimble, re-invented, and fiercely creative organization.
Formed in Montreal in 1939, the NFB’s mandate is to provide the world (and hopefully Canadians) with a unique Canadian perspective, through film. The board has done this by creating over 13,000 original productions since its inception. And for that effort it has received 12 Oscars and over 90 Genies.
Most of us have giggled through the NFB’s more recognized animated productions such as The Big Snit (1985) or The Cat Came Back (1988). Fewer may recall classroom screenings of NFB auteur Norman McLaren’s Neighbours (1952) and Begone Dull Care (1949).
That was then.
Just this past month in Cannes, the NFB showcased 14 brave new interactive titles at the MIPTV Entertainment Content Market. Their intention was to seek licensing deals for productions which are entirely made-for-the-web. It’s exciting stuff. This is content “not tied to existing broadcast properties and [content that] may never have a broadcast component”, according to Tom Perlmutter, the NFB’s Chairperson. It is “perhaps the riskiest and most difficult content to develop and, in some ways, the most important” says Perlmutter.
This is the new NFB: Innovative, creative, and exceptionally digital.
And it’s working. In just over two years, the NFB’s digital platforms have generated more than ten million views. Its online Screening Room features almost 2,000 productions, now including high-definition and 3D films. In October 2009, the NFB launched a free iPhone app which was downloaded more than 170,000 times and generated more than 500,000 film views in its first four months. The board’s free iPad app arrived in July 2010 and was followed this year by the first content app for the Android platform and Blackberry PlayBook. The NFB is active on Twitter (20,000 followers), Facebook (10,700 likes) and YouTube (29,000 subscribers). It employs these tools admirably, driving traffic and ultimately containing viewer comments, likes, and subscriptions within its own platform at nfb.ca.
This 72-year-old organization has much to be proud of. Their interactive “Highrise” project received an International Digital Emmy this month, and other NFB Interactive projects have been recently nominated for the 2011 FITC People’s Choice Awards, as well as the 2011 Webby Awards.
I find it all inspiring – this push to be digital, with content that counts, in channels that matter. The NFB senior is doing it, and so should we. Catch up with it all here: http://www.nfb.ca/interactive/
The Creative Crush Series revisits some of the most innovative social media campaigns that have inspired us at Matchstick creatively.