TORONTO — Temple Street Productions, home of the BBC America hit “Orphan Black,” announced today it has expanded its operations and is now consolidated alongside new rights, ventures, brands, and animation businesses under Boat Rocker Media, a new entertainment company with offices in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles.
The company’s reorganization and ambitious expansion follows a significant cash infusion last year from the Toronto-headquartered insurance and investment firm Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., which has a majority stake in Boat Rocker, as well as minority stakes in other major Canadian media companies.
Boat Rocker Media co-executive chairs David Fortier and Ivan Schneeberg—who cofounded Temple Street in 2006—and Boat Rocker Media CEO John Young (previously Temple’s managing director) lead the strategic and day-to-day decisions of the parent company’s various divisions.
The company’s reinvigorated entrepreneurial spirit will be reflected in a new or heightened presence at a wider range of global content market events in the coming year, the execs told Variety.
Boat Rocker Studios now holds all content-creation divisions, including Temple Street, currently lensing season 4 of “Orphan” and season 2 of “Killjoys” (Syfy), and posting “Next Step” spinoff “Lost and Found Music Studio,” an original youth show now airing on Canadian and U.K. channels, and launching worldwide on Netflix in April.
“Storytelling and our content-creation business remain our heart and soul,” said Fortier. “With Temple Street, we’ve stripped everything out of that business except for TV production to bring clarity to the brand. Boat Rocker Studios now includes a separate digital division, which will not only support our bigger brands but also add businesses—original digital content, games, apps, virtual reality, YouTube content.”
The company expects to announce shortly the addition of new brands and partners to its Studios division.
Although the value of the Fairfax investment was not disclosed, one brick-and-mortar sign of its heft is a state-of-the-art, 5,000 square-foot studio a few weeks away from opening its doors to Boat Rocker Animation, a full service 2-D and 3D-animation facility.
Boat Rocker recently purchased a minority interest in Toronto-based kid-focused CG prodco Industrial Brothers and is supporting its shows, in addition to looking at a range of acquisitions. Young says the animation division expects to add 50 to 60 people its staff this year.
Following Temple’s hire last year of former Tricon exec Jon Rutherford to lead its new distribution arm, Boat Rocker Rights now seeks to acquire rights to third-party multiplatform content. “John has been building out his team with an aim to make Boat Rocker a meaningful player in global rights,” Young said.
The company’s new Ventures division, headed by senior VP Michel Pratte, will manage the fine-tuning of the parent company’s corporate strategy and also look to invest in startups. “We need to look where the puck is going in to be in new media companies and new technology,” Young said. “The landscape keeps changing, so we are making sure we keep abreast of those opportunities.”
“There’s tons of competition and uncertainty in the marketplace and the number and types of platforms is expanding rapidly,” Fortier said. “While we’ve been working to create the best content we can, the demands around selling that content have increased, so the investment from Fairfax coupled with the success of a couple of our shows has given us the resources to build out all our existing teams with confidence, and start new ones.”
Talent recruitment and development is also a priority as Boat Rocker expands. “As you build out your content business it’s important to populate your company with the brightest young minds you can find,” Schneeberg said. “You may make your content in the same way, but you need to stay engaged and stay relevant by engaging with changes in media and with people who grew up with it.”
(Pictured: “Orphan Black”)