A Toronto-based film crew says it is out $50,000 after the city double booked a shoot in Gage Park at the same time as a music festival – a festival that the city then turned around and cancelled anyway.
The city admits the mistake, calling it a staff error that is "exceptionally rare" – but that's of little solace to Executive Producer Andrew Ferguson from LaRue Entertainment.
"This oversight occurred with no kind of accountability, and that is really costly for us," Ferguson said. "Now we're questioning whether or not we ever want to shoot in Hamilton again."
Ferguson's production company is shooting the majority of a new movie called Filth City in Hamilton, which is a fictional account of a crack-smoking mayor in a major metropolitan city.
His crew was booked to shoot in Gage Park last Wednesday, having acquired a permit some six weeks prior. They started setting up at Gage Park around 10 a.m. – but then at around 1 p.m., they got a call from the city's film and television office saying the park had been double booked with VIII Fest, a local music festival.
Because the festival had acquired a permit before the film had, that event took precedence, city spokesperson Ann Lamanes confirmed in an email.
"There was a double booking of a film permit and a special event permit – something that was unfortunately a staff error and is exceptionally rare," Lamanes said.
Music festival went late because of double booking, organizer says
But to add insult to injury, Ferguson says, the city told them that if they didn't leave, they'd send police. And they did, he says – two officers were sent to "keep the peace."
VIII Fest organizer Joshua Moran told CBC News on Friday that because of the city's error, he wasn't able to set up for the festival on time and that pushed all of his musical acts back past the 10 p.m. noise curfew.
Breaking that curfew, alongside setting up a second stage that wasn't permitted by the city, led to officials yanking VIII Fest's special events permit, scuttling the festival. Moran says he is also out thousands of dollars, and called the city's handling of the situation excessive and heavy handed.
Lamanes has told CBC News that the two incidents didn't impact one another, but both organizers say that is not the case.
Lamanes said that shooting for the film wrapped up at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, which is a half hour after the festival was originally supposed to start.
But both Moran and Ferguson say the film crew didn't actually pack up and leave until closer to 7 p.m.
"It wasn't [the festival's] fault and it wasn't our fault," Ferguson said.
City offers refund on filming permit
The city did refund the film crew the $600 for their permit, Ferguson said, but Lamanes wouldn't get into specifics about other compensation. Most of the rest of the film is still being shot in Hamilton.
"The film crew situation is being handled by our film office and I believe they are working out a fair arrangement to ensure any remaining shooting is completed despite the double booking," she said.
The $600 refund on a permit doesn't begin to cover costs the production lost due to the error, Ferguson says, including dozens of extras who still had to be paid, set-up time and costs, pyrotechnics permits and more — and then re-booking all of those things for a future date.
All told, the film's producers are out about $50,000 of the film's $500,000 budget, Ferguson said, which they are hoping insurance will cover.
The city would not grant an interview with anyone from the film and television office to talk about the incident. "We are still working things out with the production team, discussions are ongoing, and I can't relay anything further that that," Lamanes said.