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In 1981, producer/director W. Patterson Ferns and writer Richard Nielsen formed Primedia Productions Ltd. Their previous company, Nielsen-Ferns Ltd., had been created in 1972 when the two left their posts at CBC in order to focus on independent productions. In early 1985 Nielsen left Primedia to pursue his writing career and Pat Ferns took over the company.
In the years prior to Primedia’s founding, Ferns initiated several co-production arrangements with international partners; although an unusual practice in the 1970s, such co-productions have become a mainstay of the contemporary Canadian television industry. Ferns was instrumental in the creation of an independent production department within the CBC and for acceptance of independent production by private broadcasters. His arguments in front of the CRTC and other representations have been credited with sowing the seeds from which the Broadcast Fund of Telefilm Canada was born. As a result of these efforts, he has been referred to as “the father of independent production” in Canada.
Following his departure from Primedia, Neilsen founded Norflicks Productions Ltd. He has been granted a Michener Award, a Chetwynd Award and four Gemini Awards for his work. By the time Primedia folded in 1992, it had produced approximately 100 programs that had been seen around the world. Primedia’s programming falls into four general categories: performing arts programs, original TV drama, celebrity-hosted travelogues, and science programming.
In 1994, Primedia was sold to Douglas Dales, president of Production Services Ltd., one of Canada’s largest motion picture equipment rental companies.
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University of Toronto Media Commons
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Ferns Productions: http://www.fernsproductions.com/MoreAboutPat.html
Norflicks Productions Ltd. http://norflicks.com/
Barthel, Kathy. “Pat Ferns: The father of independent production.” Playback (November 13 2000), http://playbackonline.ca/2000/11/13/30362-20001113/
Enchin, Harvey. “Entertainment Briefs: Primedia Sold.” The Globe and Mail July 26, 1994, B5.