Wharf Rats: PEI Web Series Secures Over $200k In Funding

Prince Edward Island web series ‘Wharf Rats’ is proving to be extremely popular, despite the fact that it technically doesn’t exist yet. With a handful of clips and a growing audience of over 8000 followers the series have managed to hook two major sources of funding. It’s not all that surprising considering the talent they’re working with and the name they’ve made for themselves.

In the last couple years Prince Edward Island has become a hot bed of activity for comedy web series. They’ve cashed in on some island quirks to produce web series like Just Passing Through, The Prince Edward Island Encyclopedia, the recently announced Bluebird, and the proposed series, Wharf Rats. Fortunately, based on that pool of talent, they’re now seeing some national recognition.

Yesterday it was announced that Wharf Rats  would be receiving funding from the Independent Production Fund (IPF) as one of fifteen finalists in the 2017 Web Drama Series Funding Program. The program awards nearly $2M of equity investments annually to projects that further the development of Canada’s burgeoning market for new talent, particularly those in an online medium.

Selected from a long list of 180 applicants Wharf Rats will be receiving $75k for their production. Of the fifteen projects receiving funding 8 are from Ontario, 5 are from Quebec, 1 is from British Columbia, with Wharf Rats being the only finalist representing the east coast.

The funding tops off an additional $127k the project received last month from the Telefilm Micro Budget Fund. Director/Producer Jason Arsenault says they’ll use that funding to produce their proposed 85 minutes worth of episodes, but there’s no shortage of places to spend the money.

“In the beginning we were just making sketches to try to secure some funding. That extra padding means more crew, more funds for resources for that crew, and it means everything can be done more efficiently with a more polished film at the end. On top of that, making a film takes a lot of work by a lot of people – and often your asking them to go above and beyond for what many times is a passion project. More money means we can pay people more too.

The series follows two brothers from North Rustico, played by Dennis Trainor (Just Passing Through) and Robbie Carruthers (The Prince Edward Island Encyclopedia) who have dreamed of inheriting their father’s fishing boat their whole lives.

Arsenault says that things will ramp up in August as they begin planning out the logistics of the shoot: finding locations, costumes, crew, and cast. “…then the boring stuff, contracts, insurance, equipment, flights, car rentals…all the nuts and bolts. Then we plan to rehearse early September and go into production late September. Its a really fast turn around.”

Filming is expected to conclude in October, but no word yet on when we’ll get to see a finished product.