Note: This was written in 2005 when the program was called VideoFACT. It is now known as MuchFACT. Also keep in mind that digital video recording has improved a great deal since 2005, so some details may no longer be applicable.

I get a lot of questions. The most common is "I want to do a video. I'm gonna apply to VideoFACT. Can you give me tips?"

Usually the first question I ask is: "Who are you applying with?" At which point, they look confused and say they are "applying themselves."

Other times they are planning to invest in a video not shot on film which will likely never get played on MuchMusic.

It's for that reason I finally got around to doing up this information page. It's well worth the read.

Disclaimer: These are my views and may not necessarily reflect the views/rules of VideoFACT. Although care has been taken so as not misrepresent the facts.

Going the indie route w/o VideoFACT. Is it worth it?

* If you do go the independent route, the MuchMusic screening board typically approves 2-3 indie videos for rotation per week out of more than 30 submissions. However, if it doesn't get approval for rotation, it will sometimes be just approved for something like 'Indie Spotlight' or 'Going Coastal' (e.g. Skratch Bastid - 'I Ain't Lazy').

* Shoot it on Film:
As an indie, to get it approved for rotation, it almost always needs to be shot on film (99%+). MuchMusic Music Programmer, Jodi Stansfield, advises to invest properly. "Unless you have a brilliant concept (blink 182 'Rock Show' or SUM 41 'Hell Song') chances are if you shoot on video, it won't be played. Also, don't scrimp on lighting or make up - they can make a big difference in the final product."

* The cheapest indie video I've known to be approved for rotation cost $5000, and the artist called in some favours and piggybacked on another major label video shoot when they had film left over.

* A Poor Indie Video Can Lessen VideoFACT chances:
In talking with VideoFACT, I found out that releasing an independent video that isn't up to broadcast standards & can't be played on MuchMusic lessens your chances of receiving a future VideoFACT. Since I released indie videos for 'Tha PIMP-T Theme,' 'Petty Crime' and 'Shake Ya Caboose' independently, my chances of receiving a VideoFACT are lessened. The reasoning is that releasing videos that aren't up to broadcast standards is unprofessional. They only want to support artists who demonstrate a high level of professionalism, because this directly reflects well upon the VideoFACT program.

VideoFACT: The website

* Check out MuchFACT at:

VideoFACT: Who applies?

* Either the artist or the video production company can apply to VideoFACT. It is easier to let the video production company apply (i.e. fill out the application form), because they typically have the experience and reputation capable of putting together a professional application.

* However, VideoFACT program director, Beverley McKee, points out that "it all depends on how much work the artist is willing to put into the process. Ultimately, when we approve a project we consider that the grant is being awarded to the artist, not to the director or the producer."

* So, typically a good first step is to find a video producer/director to do that. He or she will need info from you, but they typically develop the budget, scenario, storyboard, etc. Of course they will get you to approve the storyboard, etc... and try to work with your ideas, but the ball should mostly be in their court.

VideoFACT: Your Chances

* VideoFACTS are hard to obtain. Last round (May 2005) they approved 43 of 333 applications =~ 13% . In addition, only 3% (10 of 333) were english hip-hop based. However, VideoFACT program director, Beverley McKee points out that "the numbers of what are approved vary. VideoFACT doesn't have set quotas, but makes a concerted effort to allocate funds to a variety of genres of music that would be likely to be programmed on one of the MuchMusic stations."

VideoFACT: Your press kit

* Before you approach a video director/producer have your shit together. They are going to need as complete a press kit as possible. Professional 8x10 is a MUST. At bare minimum, you need a biography.

* It includes: 8x10 picture, album cover, biography, one-sheet, discography, list of events, radio play, press coverage, newspaper clippings & more.

VideoFACT: How to find/choose a Video Producer?

* Now you have to find a video producer. This becomes a networking thing. Ask people who've gotten VideoFACTs as to who directed their video. Reach out to the director via phone or email. They'll likely require you to send the song & your press kit.

* There are the big eight video directors in urban music as I like to put it:
- Marc El-Ayari
- Duane Crichton
- Michael P. Douglas
- Harv
- Kevin DeFreitas
- RT!
- Mr. X
- Micah Meisner

* Someone at the top of the game like RT! would typically put in 5-8 VideoFACT applications per deadline and get 1-3 approved. Typically those approved would be the biggest names in hip-hop with previous VideoFACTs.

* As such, if you are gunning for your first VideoFACT, I suggest approaching a few up & coming video directors (e.g. Brad C, Marc Andre D, Matt S, Jim M, Cazh, Erica S). You just gotta keep your ear to the ground...

* Local Film Cooperatives:
Alternatively, an excellent resource for making videos are local film cooperatives. In Atlantic Canada one such example is Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP) - Shelley MacPhail, Universal Soul's manager adds, "if a director has a series of successful short films under his/her belt, VideoFACT will accept that person as having the qualifications to produce a quality music video, even if it is their first music video."

* The Right Director For You:
View the other work a director has done. You aren't looking for content or storyline in this viewing, you're looking for quality of flow and framing. You want to see that the director is able to surround his/herself with skilled camera people, lighting people, editors, sound and synchronisation crew.

VideoFACT: The budget. Do you have to pay?

* I get some people asking about the budget. VideoFACT covers 50% of the total costs, up to $20,000. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you as an artist have to come up with the other 50% out of your pocket. Why? Well because VideoFACT allows 50% of the costs to be donated services. It is up to the director and the production company to decide whether or not they wish to donate their services. Some won't. So be sure to ask up front.

* The way donated services work is that if a director wants to get paid $15,000 for a video, they would apply to VideoFACT with a total cost of $30,000, with $15,000 of the costs being their donated time.

* Of course, sometimes VideoFACT pro-rates the approved amount, which means the VideoFACT grant is approved for less money then that for which was applied. This can lead to complications and sometimes the director declines to do the video if they feel they cannot do justice to their vision (Universal Soul's 1st video).

* VideoFACT program director, Beverley McKee adds, "if VideoFACT does cut the budget it does not mean we think the treatment is only worth $15,000. We expect the artist to come up with the other $5,000. We have limited funds and often, the only way we can come in at our budget for the meeting is to shave a few thousand here and there from requests."

VideoFACT: The Most Important Factors

* VideoFACT program director, Beverley McKee, points out the most important factors are in gaining approval:

1. The most important judging criteria for the VideoFACT board is the strength of the track as it compares to the other tracks we're considering in the meeting. If the song is not strong, or is just so-so, chances are it won't be approved.

2. If we like the song, we then judge the strength of the visual treatment (ie, will this make a good video, is it interesting, do we think that it can be played on one of the stations?)

3. Then we judge the viability of the production.
        - Who is producing?
        - Is the budget viable for the treatment?
        - Do we have confidence that the project will come together and get completed?

4. Then we look at how the video will impact the artist's career:
        - Is there an album out?
        - Do they have distribution?
        - How old is the album?
        - How many singles deep is the artist?
        - Are they touring?
        - Do they have radio numbers?
        - Album sales?
        - Media buzz?

"But, again I must stress it is the strength of the track that is our most important judging criteria."


* Generally, they say once you get your first VideoFACT, it's like getting your foot in the door. VideoFACT typically continues to support artists it has supported in the past, so getting that first VideoFACT is amazingly hard. After that, your chances improve. You just have to keep on the grind and keep applying. Good luck!

* If this document helped you, I'd love to know. Drop me an email.

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