May 18, 2016
Attn: Greg Plata
Team Lead, Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing at WestJet
My name is Jason Leaver, I’m the creator, writer and director of Out With Dad; a hit webseries produced here in Canada and beloved around the globe. It is a quirky narrative drama that tells the story of Rose, who in her mid-teens struggled to come to terms with her sexuality, while her supportive dad did what he could to make coming out an easy transition… though sometimes he tries a little too hard. The first person she ever came out to was her best friend, and first crush: Vanessa. It didn’t go well, and their relationship deteriorated quickly. In our current fourth season, Rose is now out, and in her first year of university. Vanessa’s path has been a very different one from Rose, as her family does not accept her sexuality. Rose and Vanessa have been separated by circumstance for most of the series, and our fans are desperate to see them together again.
I first started making this series seven years ago, back when “webseries” was not a word understood by many. It was a grassroots effort with a volunteer cast and crew, funded out of pocket. We’ve grown quite a bit since then! Our current fourth season is 100% funded by our fans. Thanks to our invested fans, our cast and crew are paid better than minimum wage: a statement few indie productions can say.
Out With Dad is one of the most successful independent web dramas ever produced in Canada. It has been nominated twice by the Canadian Screen Awards, in addition to countless other international awards and nominations. Fans of this show are passionate. It has amassed over 26 million views across platforms, garnering an average of around 200K views per month on YouTube and Dailymotion. New episodes are typically viewed about 15K times within the first month of its debut. Some episodes are outliers, performing exceptionally higher than others – some in the millions of views. Our audience is global, with top viewership in these ten counties: United States, Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada and Argentina. 78% of the audience is female. 60% of the audience is 18-34. More data can be found here by clicking here.
The high-performing episodes, watched millions of times, are the ones that depict the passion between Rose and Vanessa. On a daily basis, the audience demands to see more of them together, with the firm belief that these two childhood sweethearts are ‘meant to be’. Their reunion episodes would certainly become fan-favourites, with the potential of being viewed millions of times.
The story outline for their reunion has been written: Dad needs to travel to Europe for work, and Rose accompanies him. After some time in London, they will travel to Marseille. While exploring a small town near Marseille, Rose happens to bump into Vanessa. It is the very unlikeliness of them meeting so far from home that will confirm what fans want believe: their love is meant to be. A dream come true not just for our characters, our audience too.
I’ve been delaying screentime of Rose and Vanessa together for a long time, because I want to partner with a brand to help bring them back together in a big way.
Filming several episodes abroad is not out of reach for this modest production. Thanks to the Patrons of Out With Dad, our labour and incidental costs are covered. Thanks to partnerships with local filmmakers in London and France, our locations, lodging and catering needs are (mostly) covered.
The only thing holding us back from filming in Europe is the expense of the flight across the pond for our small cast and crew. That is why we are looking to partner with an airline to help bring our vision to life. We are seeking complimentary return flights for our cast and crew of 6-8 people with baggage to London in October 2016.
As Out With Dad is unabashedly Canadian, WestJet is an ideal choice to be credibly integrated into the story as Rose and Dad’s airline of choice.
Scenes would be filmed in London and Marseille. We would also attend the prestigious Marseille Web Fest (October 21-22), with whom the production has a relationship of support. At this festival, we’d participate in panels and discussions about the making of our series that would include our partnership with WestJet.
We’ll go beyond simple brand integration when promoting WestJet’s support of our craft. While endeavouring to remain spoiler-free, the production and cast will conduct extensive social media for the duration of the trip: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and vlogs for YouTube. We will also film lots of behind-the-scenes footage to be released after the episodes debut. We also have the support of the French In all of this, we will continue our tradition of transparency with the audience, including all about WestJet’s generous support. We’d be happy to share any of our footage with you for use on your YouTube channel, as I feel cross promotion is the best kind of promotion. Additionally, there is another story being told here: a small group of artists with a passion for travel are being supported by WestJet. This could be WestJet’s story to tell, if you so choose.
This collaboration would mark Out With Dad’s first-ever brand sponsorship.
For many of our fans, Out With Dad is intrinsically tied to their identity. Given the subject matter of our story, we have been a positive role model for parents and youth alike. We have given courage and comfort to those who find themselves in the same situations as our characters, as they face the challenges of coming out and encountering homophobia. Some fans have even linked this show to being the reason they are still alive today, having discovered the show in their darkest time. Many of the Patrons of Out With Dad are parents and grandparents who see the value in this show, and want the series to continue to grow and give courage to more and more young people.
In this new age of storytelling, fans feel a personal connection with the actors and myself. They’re an educated audience; they understand the challenges of making a production of our scale. They are very thankful for what we do with so little. It is why our show is considered a phenomenon by almost any measure of success. In our view, any brand that comes aboard to support a project as important as Out With Dad would be seen as heroes to these fans.
Our cast and crew are a busy bunch. Each of us have other projects going on, which would also prosper from an opportunity to film abroad. For example, actor Lindsey Middleton’s new documentary series HappyHer about two Canadian women who head across the world in search of what inspires happiness in women. Or, cinematographer Daneille Thorn’s award-winning documentary series Cranium Cookie teaches young people about science and more – such as how air travel is possible, and other interesting facts we can learn from WestJetters.
I think Out With Dad shares many of the same values as WestJet; such as caring for others, being a positive role model, and demonstrating acceptance of diversity and above all: making dreams come true.
I’ll leave you with this short video that was created last year, for when we were nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. I think it exemplifies what this show is all about.
Filmed in secret and released as part of the third season, the spin-off series Vanessa’s Story debuted in early 2014. When this supporting character’s story line was deemed too dark for Out With Dad, Vanessa’s Story was conceived to run parallel to Out With Dad, shot in a very different style.
Our short, fourth season teaser: