Kathy Avrich-Johnson is a senior entertainment lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in television and film production and more recently in the digital sphere and distribution across drama, comedy and documentary genres.
Known for her integrity, clients turn to Kathy for her valuable insights as well as straightforward and practical approach to addressing the issues, challenges and opportunities of rights acquisitions, development agreements, first-look deals, co-venture or co-production agreements, financing agreements, production banking, music clearances, errors & omissions, domestic and international distribution, and other exploitation agreements.
Kathy negotiates and implements agreements for key talent, creative and production personnel. She also helps to maximize tax credits, and facilitates complex clearance rights and related matters to enable the production of documentaries
Kathy is the author of two much-appreciated and well-thumbed producer handbooks:
Development and Other Production Challenges (published by Telefilm Canada, 2003)
Canadian Production Finance (published by the Ontario Media Development Corporation & Telefilm Canada, 1998; revised 2001)
For Allan King’s last three feature documentaries, including Dying at Grace and for several other feature documentaries, Kathy managed the complex and sensitive clearance and consents required.
Since 2007, Kathy has provided legal and consulting services to Ilana Frank’s Thump Inc. and ICF Films, and from 2009 served as production counsel on the popular and successful drama series “Rookie Blue” (74 episodes), which is aired by Global and ABC. She has also held this role since 2011 for the highly rated hospital drama “Saving Hope” (49 episodes) on CTV.
Kathy has been a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada since 1983.
PRODUCTION AND FINANCE
Kathy has facilitated the production finance and business operation of dozens of feature films (drama and documentary) including international and interprovincial co-productions. Kathy is a producer of more than 125 hours of television drama and comedy and more than 40 webisode extensions of TV series. She ardently promotes and protects the interests of her creative partners and usually maintains her cool and sense of humour.
Her many accomplishments include developing financing structures, securing funding and interim financing, and ensuring timely cash flow for many feature films, television, and digital projects.
Kathy’s storied career in the Canadian entertainment industry began in 1984, when Kathy became the founding Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Film and Television Producers (merged in the early 90s into what is now the CMPA). In this role, she helped to grow the organization and establish it as a vital voice for entrepreneurial entertainment producers. She also managed several sets of collective agreement negotiations on behalf of producers, and organized a national symposium on distribution. In just five years, the association was acknowledged for providing excellent insights into the business and challenges of film and television production.
In 1989, Kathy created the business affairs department of a television production, distribution and facilities company. She was subsequently appointed VP of Business Affairs and Production Finance for Norstar Entertainment. In this role, Kathy focused on the production and distribution of feature films, including international co-productions. During her tenure with Norstar, Kathy shepherded more than 15 productions from acquisition or development through to exploitation.
From 1997 – 2000, Kathy was Director of the New Skills Development and Marketing Initiatives (SDMI) department for the OFDC (now OMDC). While working with the OFDC, Kathy was responsible for initiating and developing innovative and practical professional development, business, and marketing opportunities for emerging and small production companies.
Kathy also authored and co-authored several studies, including an evaluation of production company access to agency administered financing, for OMDC and Telefilm Canada. The studies subsequently led to Kathy writing two widely read and referred-to producer handbooks: Development and Other Production Challenges (published by Telefilm Canada, 2003); and Canadian Production Finance (published by the Ontario Media Development Corporation & Telefilm Canada, 1998; revised 2001). Kathy also produced a competitiveness study for the Ontario film and television industries, undertook an environmental scan and strategic direction report on six cultural industries for OMDC, and developed a guide to doing business with Telefilm as well as a survey of producer training for Telefilm.
From 2003 to 2008, Kathy was the business partner in the production company Canadian Accents with Colin Mochrie, Debra McGrath and Deb Day. She was instrumental in helping her cohorts realize their comedic creative visions, and was responsible for all management and administration.
Since late 2008 Kathy has been responsible for the business affairs and management of the financing and production for the Rookie Blue series. In 2010, her responsibilities extended to Saving Hope.
When Kathy steps away from the entertainment spotlight, she turns her attention to her growing family, which includes her husband, son, three stepchildren, and eight grandchildren. She is hooked on improv and has a love and flair for cooking. Kathy has been on the board of the Asperger’s Society of Ontario for the past 12 years.