Sponsor Profile: Melissa Kajpust | Super Channel

By CFC Staff June 12, 2018 00:00

Our ongoing series profiles the movers and shakers in the Canadian and international screen-based industries. For this month's spotlight on Super Channel, the CFC got the inside scoop on the channel’s stellar rebrand from Melissa Kajpust, Vice President of Programming, as well as her perspective on the current landscape for content in the screen-based industry.

Melissa Kajpust, VP, Programming at Super Channel

CFC: How does Super Channel’s exciting new look reflect its approach to content and programming?
Melissa Kajpust (MK): With our rebrand, we are now offering four distinct channels, which means we have four distinct audiences that we are programming for.

On Super Channel Fuse, we continue to offer premium programming that will appeal to our core subscribers – the folks who have been loyal to us for years. As we move forward, we don’t want to leave them behind. In fact, we are now offering more of what they love. Homeland and Power continue to perform as top drivers, but we recognize the importance of keeping it fresh and want to deliver on our promise to entertain and engage our subscribers. Recent additions such as Mr. Mercedes, American Gods, Harlots, Berlin Station, Get Shorty and Deep State are doing just that. These are all very much in line with what premium pay subscribers expect.

Super Channel Heart & Home offers feel-good programming with themes of romance, family and community. Programming this channel has been a delight! The audience for Heart & Home is looking to escape from reality and snuggle into something warm and cozy. We have populated the channel with Hallmark movies and series, including our flagship series When Calls The Heart, as well as Cedar Cove and season 3 of Chesapeake Shores. We are also offering library movies such as You’ve Got Mail, Charlotte’s Web and Bewitched, and classic musicals such as Singin’ In The Rain and An American In Paris. Library series we offer include Remington Steele and the Colin Firth version of Pride & Prejudice. UPTV movies also work for this channel.

We launched Super Channel Vault a little more than a year ago, and it has been a huge success. This channel offers a diverse collection of Hollywood features and critically acclaimed films, spanning a variety of genres and decades, from all of our studio partners. The best part of programming this channel is finding those gems that audiences haven’t seen. Vault is a fantastic addition to a great lineup of channels.

Our final channel, GINX Esports TV Canada, launched in May 2017 and caters to Canadian esports enthusiasts, featuring live tournaments, news and gaming lifestyle programming from around the world.

CFC: As VP of Programming at Super Channel, what do you look for when acquiring new content?
MK: Ultimately, a series that will get noticed and attract new subscribers. Series based on existing IPs are always appealing because there is a built-in audience. All of the Heart & Home series I mentioned are based on books; Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods are great examples of adaptations that work. For original content on Fuse we look for strong, layered characters, suspenseful, surprising and twisted plots, and worlds that offer a ticket to a new place. Recognizable cast also goes a long way. Our Heart & Home series must be light, heartwarming and safe with themes of romance, family or community. Cozy mysteries based on book series also work.

CFC: In an oversaturated marketplace, what do you think makes Canadian stories and storytellers stand out?
MK: Is anything truly standing out these days? Sure, our Canadian success stories are mounting, and our writers and directors are receiving the praise and accolades they deserve. We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years and we have much to celebrate. But it’s not getting any easier in the global marketplace – more and more high-quality series are being offered each year, thus causing audience divide. It’s been a few years since a new series has launched that everyone is watching. Audiences are overwhelmed. That being said, on Super Channel, we have six Canadian series currently airing and two upcoming. They are all very different, and each has been performing well with their respective audiences. For Fuse we have Acceptable Risk, What Would Sal Do?, Forgive Me, and the upcoming Pure. For Heart & Home we have When Calls the Heart and Cedar Cove, with Chesapeake Shores coming later this summer. On Ginx we have commissioned a daily talk show HUD (Heads Up Daily).

CFC: You have been involved with the CFC both personally and professionally, how would you describe your various experiences with our organization?
MK: I graduated from the CFC Professional Screenwriting Program in 2000 and have never looked back. In fact, I landed my first writing gig prior to graduating! I am incredibly grateful to the CFC – they don’t just train, they open doors. When I previously oversaw sponsorship at Super Channel, I called the CFC to say we wanted to sponsor the CFC Annual BBQ Fundraiser. They were pretty excited to receive a call like that, and expressed how meaningful it is when alumni give back.

CFC: What advice would you give to emerging content creators when approaching buyers and broadcasters?
MK: Broadcasters are inundated with pitches from established companies, so it is tough to get noticed when you are starting out – but rest assured, everyone is looking for that next great talent or project. Before making your initial contact, be sure to do your research. I am always impressed when someone knows our programming, sadly many don’t bother to take the time. I can’t speak for other broadcasters, but what gets my attention is a well-crafted email that offers succinct information on the team, and a short synopsis of the project. Don’t send a full script or bible unless it is requested. If you don’t get a response immediately then follow up a week later. Be respectful if you get a pass. It doesn’t help to try to argue with the broadcaster. There are many reasons your project might not work so don’t take it personally.