March 9, 2018, 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM

One might think that “brands” and “fandom” are mutually exclusive, but they are not – it is possible to create audience-driven, fandom-savvy scripted content for the web, entirely financed by brands willing to take a chance. This session will present a case study on “Carmilla,” the successful Smokebomb branded series made in partnership with U By Kotex; examining what makes it so effective and how it compares to other branded series. We will also examine how “Carmilla” became a sustainable and monetizable franchise: from the YA book adaptation in the works to the production and unique release of “The Carmilla Movie” in late 2017. The session will cover the movie's “untraditional” financing model, combining fan pre-sales, Telefilm, Hollywood Suite, and American digital platform Fullscreen.

We will discuss branded content and digital originals in the context of today’s landscape. Apart from brands venturing into space, who are the new buyers? In this era of multiple niche OTT services and new SVOD platforms springing up regularly, who’s here to stay? Who can independent creator-producers sell to?

This session will also address strategies for audience development, with a special focus on how to grow audiences for scripted YouTube series.

In the theatre at the Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour St)

9:30 - 11:30 AM on Friday, March 9, 2018


Steph Ouaknine is an award-winning producer specializing in digital-first features and series, branded content, and fan engagement. She has a proven track record of creating evocative series that have garnered passionate fans, critical acclaim, and forged new revenue models. She creates content that finds an audience.

Steph has co-created, developed and produced CARMILLA, the award-winning multi-platform series that ran for 108 episodes and spawned a global and engaged community that call themselves "The Creampuffs." The series was financed by U by Kotex, topped 70 million views, earning Steph and the team a Cannes Lion nod, Rocky Award, multiple Canadian Screen Awards, Webby and Streamy Awards.

She then developed, produced and successfully raised the financing for the continuation of the franchise: The Carmilla Movie. It bowed to a sold-out Canadian theatrical event run in 40+ theatres in partnership with Cineplex and Telefilm, as well as doing the festival rounds worldwide.

Steph's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the future of television landed her a spot in the Canadian Media Producers' Association "Next Generation of Producers" feature in Winter 2018.

She has been named one of “19 people in the TV Industry the LGBTQ Community is thankful for” by Culturess Magazine, and spoken at WIFT-T, The British Film Institute, TIFF, Buffer Festival, VIFF, New York Comic Con and Toronto Fan Expo, as well as Ryerson and UCLA.