Telefilm turns the camera on Canadians

A new social campaign lets us be voyeurs and see how others enjoy our country's cinema.


Telefilm Canada has tapped into the power of showing and not telling, with a new social campaign aimed at growing Canadians’ appreciation for films originating from within our borders.

“Watch Us, Watch Us,” created by The Hive, includes seven short online videos that feature a variety of Canadians – from a hockey team to a family of Syrian refugees to Olympians – watching and reacting to Canadian films, including Breakaway, Turbo Kid, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, and La grande séduction.

The campaign was built around the insight that Canadians often don’t think Canadians actually enjoy watching our own films, says Francesca Accinelli, director, national promotions and communications at Telefilm Canada.

“Watch Us, Watch Us” was created to support a collection of 150 Canadian films on iTunes, in honour, of course, of Canada’s 150th birthday. That partnership was part of larger set of discoverability initiatives launched by Telefilm in January.

In March 2016, Telefilm launched an initiative called “Canada First,” a social media platform to instill a sense of pride among Canadians when it comes to the talent in our film industry, past and present.

However, Accinelli says Telefilm did struggle with finding the right kind of content that engages Canadians, prompting it to turn to the trend of viewers loving to watch others watch things – think e-sports’ growing popularity or even those YouTube compilations of people watching the “Red Wedding” scene from Game of Thrones.

The campaign has received support on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, with Telefilm largely after an 18-to-35 demographic but also seeing engagement from viewers outside that group, particularly on Facebook, which skews older, Accinelli says.

The first four English-language videos have so far received more than 2,550,000 views, with the latest French video on track to have similar results, according to The Hive.

Given the relative low cost of producing the videos and their successful level of engagement, Telefilm is likely to produce more similar content, Accinelli says.