When the company they worked for was sold and then shut down, Joy Rosen and Lisa Olfman seized the upside of being down-sized. In a spare bedroom with a $15,000 bank loan, a borrowed typewriter and a determination to produce and export world-class television programs, Portfolio Entertainment was willed into being.
You may have called Joy and Lisa incurable optimists or divas with drive. But whatever you called them, you got a call back. It was this spirit that lead to a production order from YTV for our first series Groundling Marsh, just six months after start-up. 65 episodes later, the series had won numerous awards. It soon found a home on Disney Channel and U.S. public television, and in more than 90 territories globally. There was no looking back.
We appreciated early on that our future relied on forging relationships beyond our borders, both as producers and distributors. Our distribution division built its catalogue one series at a time, with travel, cooking, extreme sports and kids’ series. Among the first independents to wade into international distribution waters, we loaded our suitcases full of screening cassettes, program brochures and miniature bottles of Canadian maple syrup and headed to the world’s largest international television festival, MIPTV in Cannes, France.
On the heels of this early success in live-action kids programming, Portfolio expanded into a new medium – animation – and a new genre with primetime drama, producing series such as RoboRoach and Carl Squared and the MOW Stolen Miracle. We also pursued co-productions with partners in Europe and the U.S.
2008 was a banner year. We competed for and won the rights to adapt Dr. Seuss’ iconic classic, The Cat in the Hat into an animated series for PBS. Portfolio’s team has since made its mark on the Dr. Seuss legacy by pulling out all the stops. Novel animation techniques and world-class talent – including internationally-renowned actor Martin Short as the voice of the eponymous Cat – are just part of this wild success story.
Portfolio’s international footprint further increased with the successful bid to develop and produce a series starring Discovery Kids Latin America’s mascot, DOKI.
Now, entering our 25th year, Portfolio is experiencing unprecedented growth – big changes for a company built with the humblest of beginnings. Our newest production, Freaktown has just been delivered to Teletoon and to channels in Europe and Asia. We have a full roster of new productions in pre-production and our distribution division is expanding its reach to include OTT, TV and everything in between.
Since 2015, the company launched a new head office in the creative hub of Toronto’s King West district, boosted its corporate and talent roster to more than 60, established a factual production division, and unveiled its greatest new venture: Portfolio Animation.
The energy of the startup that birthed this company is more alive than ever – only now, it is matched by a track record, long standing relationships and experience.
Our story is now 25 years in the telling – incredible chapters are still to come.