OMDC SUCCESS STORY: RTR MEDIA
Toronto-based RTR Media actually had its origins in Montreal. Kit Redmond had worked with Hans Rosenstein and Debbie Travis of Whalley Abbey Media on several successful television shows, including Debbie Travis’ Facelift and Buy Me. Loving Montreal but realizing that the networks and talent base were in Toronto, Rosenstein and Travis asked Redmond to establish a Toronto-based production company with them as partners. The goal was to bring Debbie Travis from a cable network personality to conventional networks. It would also use the experience gained in creating Debbie Travis’ strong lifestyle brand to duplicate the success with other personalities.
After four years, the company had met all of its original goals, producing shows like From the Ground Up for Global, Her Money with Allison Griffith for the W Network, and Income Property, which is currently in its eleventh season. Redmond bought out the other partners, and today RTR is recognized as one of the top producers of lifestyle content in Canada, and even around the world.
RTR Media is built on the strength of lifestyle personalities, but also on the talent and support that has been available to it. RTR has taken advantage of the Export Fund to market three pilots in the US, using the support to build relationships that later resulted in lucrative deals. OMDC’s Collaboration and Innovation Fund, designed to help traditional industries transition into digital, is supporting RTR’s digital growth. The company was able to successfully grow the YouTube Channel “The Domestic Geek” with OMDC support. According to Redmond, the training and support that OMDC provides with its programs create the conditions for success.
This kind of support is important, as Redmond sees a transition underway from a “classical” Canadian television production model (with tax credits and a distribution advance to finance projects) to a more entrepreneurial and more global approach, developing and monetizing content for all platforms.
With a long and successful track record in lifestyle content, Ontario has been an ideal place for RTR to grow. Redmond notes that many of HGTV US’ top shows are produced in Ontario. The combination of top talent with the fact that it is a smaller market means producers often get to tap into talent experienced in other genres; a scripted writer or a film Director of Photography might come to work on a lifestyle show. The resulting cross-pollination of talent creates something special.
“RTR is proactive. We’re not running afraid from industry transition; we’re running right into the hurricane and trying to find that glorious place in the middle where the world is truly beautiful, calm, and bright. Sometimes we’ll get bashed around—but we’d rather be in the middle of it than outside and afraid.”
— Kit Redmond, CEO and Executive Producer, RTR Media
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