Ontario's thriving film industry could mean more shoots in London area

A booming film industry in Ontario means mysterious road closures for on-location shoots may soon become a common occurrence for the city of London.

There's potential for Toronto/Hamilton filmmakers to find 'fresh' new locations in the Forest City

Pageman Productions hard at work on the set of action-horror-thriller Last the Night in London, Ont. (Submitted by Daniel Turres)

A booming film industry in Ontario means mysterious road closures for on-location shoots may soon become a common occurrence for the city of London. 

The province said Thursday that in 2021, Ontario's film and TV industry injected $2.88 billion into the provincial economy via production spending. It saw nearly 400 productions in the past year, and created close to 50,000 jobs. 

Film London manager Andrew Dodd said that while much of that work took place in Toronto and Hamilton, it's only a matter of time before directors start to scope out the London area for fresh sets and talent. 

"There's articles all the time about Toronto having difficulty keeping up with productions, with the demand for studio space. And Hamilton's going to be facing the same problem if they're not already right now," said Dodd. "So we're seeing that bubble start to expand, [and] we have every reason to believe that it will eventually come to London." 

Dodd said in the past month an episode of a popular TV show was filmed in London, and there are three feature films on track to shoot in the Forest City over the next 12 months. The details of those projects are under wraps until the post-production is done.

Andrew Dodd is manager of London Film, an office with the London Economic Development Corporation. (Submitted by Andrew Dodd)

The momentum for film work is only beginning to build, said Dodd. The two-hour trip down highway 401 was once a hindrance to directors needing to pack up a crew, cast and equipment to make movie magic happen.   

But the script, Dodd said, is starting to flip thanks to the emerging talent and workforce graduating out of Fanshawe College and Western University. 

"You don't need to pay to bring everybody to London. You can find that work here locally," he said. "It's up to property owners, of course, but we would likely not charge as much for shooting locations as they do, say, in the Toronto or Hamilton area." 

He said the new Film London database has 95 properties currently listed for potential shoots, along with 56 crew members and eight performers. 

Daniel Turres recently directed a feature film in London through his production company Pageman Productions. Last the Night is an action-horror-thriller that's headed for the festival circuit. 

He said that although London's film industry is still in its early days, society's voracious hunger for new content means minds are open to new and different forms of entertainment. 

A boom mic operator assists in filming on Renwick Ave in London for The Unlikely Vegan on Bell Fibe TV. (Submitted by Andrew Dodd)

He said the demand is such that working in the film industry is becoming an increasingly viable career, beyond being an art form. 

"I think the film industry still has the potential to grow [in London]," said Turres. 

"It still needs to learn from a lot of its growing pains and everything, and it needs to maybe research on how other film conditions like in Windsor and Hamilton run to improve itself. I think if we just put the work into that system, it will definitely grow."