Arcadia Entertainment: Two decades of visual storytelling
Sunday, September 1, 2019
As Arcadia Entertainment celebrates its 20th anniversary, its people can take pride in producing and delivering more than 500 programs to international broadcasters, mainly Discovery and National Geographic.
What makes Arcadia unusual is that it’s a 360˚ production company. “All our cast, crew and workers, from conception to the last bit of closed captioning, work in this building,” says John Wesley Chisholm, Arcadia’s president and creative director. “They travel to where the story is and come back to Halifax to make the show.”
Arcadia’s 36 full-time, permanent staff are working on six different factual TV series including Hope For Wildlife, now commissioned for its tenth season. The company has also been commissioned by Discovery Science US and NBC-U to produce a two-hour special on the rebuilding of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Since Arcadia exports all its shows, two NSBI programs are particularly important: the Export Growth Program, which helps fund travel to markets, and the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund (Film Fund).
“TV is a specialized business of buying and selling ideas in global markets,” Chisholm says. “The three pillars of the community – producers, broadcasters and distributors – get together to form alliances that will get projects fully funded. Without travelling to these face-to-face meetings, we wouldn’t sell any TV shows.”
The Film Fund levels the playing field for a regional rural producer, he believes. “It is absolutely crucial. We’re a thousand miles from our nearest customer, and we don’t have access to the same talent, tools and connections as others do. The Film Fund enables us to compete in the global market. In return, we bring capital back to Nova Scotia. We’re creating jobs and building a talent pool for our unique corner of the TV business.”
Nova Scotia is a great place to develop ideas, he says. “We are halfway between New York and London, but we have a mix of minds and manners that is typical of the whole world. And Nova Scotians are great storytellers.”
“We are halfway between New York and London, but we have a mix of minds and manners that is typical of the whole world. And Nova Scotians are great storytellers.”
Chisholm sees today as a golden age for factual television. “It’s where the greatest opportunities in creative jobs lie. It produces a product that’s of interest to the world. And we’re really, really good at it in Nova Scotia.”