Manitoba film industry to post best-ever year with $160M in productions

Manitoba's film industry is poised to post the best numbers in the history of filmmaking in the province.

Job growth expected to increase along with more productions, On Screen Manitoba says

Crew members prepare to shoot a scene for the feature film The Parts You Lose at a soundstage in Winnipeg. The film began shooting in Winnipeg in December, part of what Manitoba Film and Music says will be the best-ever year for the province's film and TV industry. (CBC)

Manitoba's film industry is poised to post the best numbers in the history of filmmaking in the province.

New numbers from Manitoba Film and Music peg the production volume for 2017-2018 in the province at about $160 million.

The fiscal year won't be over until the end of March, but officials with the provincial industry support organization say they already know they'll at least reach that figure — setting a record for film production in the province.

The industry has been posting steady growth over the past five years, but there was a significant jump recently, according to Nicole Matiation, the executive director of the industry association On Screen Manitoba.

Along with more cash and productions, job growth is also expected to increase.

"Last year, we had 1,900 positions created at that $139 million rate so we're expecting even more jobs," said Matiation. "We also had more feature films shooting than normally. We usually see about a dozen in any one year. I think we were above 15."

Last year, the industry projected $127 million in production volume, but ended up hitting $139 million.

The increase in production isn't an accident — industry experts point to Manitoba's film tax credit and a low Canadian dollar as major factors bringing productions here.

Other provinces also changed or axed their credits, sending more film trucks into the province.

A crew member readies for shooting on the set of The Parts You Lose in Winnipeg. Industry experts point to Manitoba's film tax credit and a low Canadian dollar as major factors bringing productions here. (CBC)

And, Matiation said, both On Screen Manitoba and Manitoba Film and Music have been lobbying producers heavily over the past five years to shoot their movies and television series here.

"This really opens up opportunities for Manitobans who've been wanting to, or have been on the edge of the industry to really get involved. Obviously, when we need to fill a lot of positions really quickly, there's opportunity for people to come from other provinces," said Matiation.

"We've certainly seen with Saskatchewan that there's been a fairly significant migration since they lost their tax credit in 2013. Production companies, producers, crew members have over time migrated to Manitoba and are deeply involved in our community now."

She said On Screen Manitoba runs a website called Get On Set that posts jobs and demystifies the process for people who want to get into the industry.

"There's some courses to take — online courses, and additional training. But there is absolutely opportunity to get involved in this opportunity, in terms of crew and also in terms of production offices, art department — lots of different kinds of opportunity," Matiation said.

Features for the 2018-2019 year are just being lined up, but Matiation hopes the lucrative TV series that have filmed here in the past, like CBC's Burden of Truth and NBC's Channel Zero, will return.