Guillermo Del Toro's staff plan Hamilton visit to talk film studio locations: mayor

It happened after the city's mayor tweeted to Del Toro and urged him to give him a call.

This happened after the city's mayor tweeted to Del Toro and urged him to give him a call

Director Guillermo Del Toro tweeted with Mayor Fred Eisenberger about a possible film studio in Hamilton. Here, he holds the Golden Lion award for the best movie The Shape of Water during the awards ceremony at the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy last week. (Alessandro Bianchi/REUTERS)

A group of staffers for famed Hollywood director Guillermo Del Toro are headed to Hamilton soon to scout possible locations for a film studio, says Mayor Fred Eisenberger. And it all happened with a tweet.

City economic development staff are already looking at potential locations, Eisenberger says. Before long, Del Toro's company is expected to join them.

"Discussions are happening," Eisenberger said. "We'll talk about what their interests are and whether there are appropriate sites — and I believe there are — and we'll go from there."

This is just the latest in a growing mutual love affair between the Pacific Rim director and the city.

Del Toro has filmed in Hamilton before, including using the Scottish Rite Club in the spooky 2015 film Crimson Peak.

He returned last year to film The Shape of Water, and tweeted about restaurants, book stores and the city's recent revitalization. Hamiltonians reciprocated, inviting him to their shops and eateries and offering to have lunch with him.

"I can't tell you how great it is, and great it feels, to see you tweeting about #HamOnt," someone tweeted to him.

Then in a Toronto International Film Festival appearance this week, Del Toro said he'd like to set up a studio in Hamilton.

Filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Guillermo del Toro's creature-feature fairytale, The Shape of Water, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Fox Searchlight)

"I love Hamilton," he said. "I love it. It has some of the greatest stores, book stores, restaurants. It's really a transforming city."

Eisenberger saw this and tweeted to Del Toro on Sept. 11.

"Give us a call @RealGDT," he tweeted. "We'd love to talk further!"

"Follow me, Fred and I'll follow back so we can DM," Del Toro said.

They messaged, Eisenberger said, and connected staff on their respective ends.

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Hamilton is already no stranger to the film scene. It's become such a popular filming location in recent years that Dundas looked at a three-year moratorium on filming. And a secret "major production" is due to shut down Kenilworth Avenue North on Oct. 16 and 17.

Digital Canaries, for example, set up film studios an old Burlington Street washing machine factory last year. And the city's vision for the former Stelco industrial lands includes a possible film studio there.

But the idea of a high profile director setting up here carries extra excitement, Eisenberger said. And the city will do whatever it can to make it happen.

"It's great that we have an internationally renowned film director talking positively about Hamilton," he said. "He knows Hamilton. He's been here. He's filmed here. He's enjoyed himself here."

This isn't Eisenberger's first big swing this month. The mayor announced last week that Hamilton would be among the cities to vie for a second headquarters for retail giant Amazon. A city team started meeting this week. 


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca