'Hollywood of the North': Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway drawing in film industry

The N.W.T.’s film commissioner says the opening of the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway last year is boosting people’s interest in doing business in the territory.

General Motors is third automotive company to host project in Beaufort Delta in last year, says commissioner

'There's an increase in inquiries for not only documentary, but also feature films,' says Camilla MacEachern. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The N.W.T.'s film commissioner says the opening of the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway last year is boosting people's interest in doing business in the territory.

General Motors was in Inuvik this week with a contingent of 45 writers and journalists to launch the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. It's the third automotive company to host a project or film production in the Beaufort Delta region in the last year, according to commissioner Camilla MacEachern.

And they're not the only ones wanting to come north.

General Motors brought in 45 writers and journalists to the launch of the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. This is the 3rd automotive company to host a project in the Beaufort Delta in the last year. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"There's an increase in inquiries for not only documentary, but also feature films," said MacEachern. "And in the last year especially, we have seen a rise in specifically car commercials, which is wonderful."

While MacEachern wouldn't quantify the increase, she described the Beaufort as a hot spot — "the Hollywood of the North if you may."

A range of productions has been looking the N.W.T.'s way, she said, from reality TV shows to feature films, to made-for-TV dramas.

While each production is different, MacEachern said they have one thing in common: they're good for the local economy.

"They're hiring locally and creating a capacity, but they're also spending a lot of money on hotel rooms and flights and catering and local tourism operators," MacEachern said. "In turn, we're also creating wonderful awareness to the rest of the world that we are a wonderful territory with endless location opportunities."

MacEachern said events like this created "very significant benefits to the local economy," but when asked for details, the commissioner referred to a study. She said the study identified "100 people working in the industry" across the North, with the film industry itself generating "approximately $10 million" for the economy.

Opportunity for local talent

The backdrop of the N.W.T. is just what drew General Motors to the region.

"We needed to pick a bold location, a magical location, in order to showcase our all-new Silverado, and the road to Tuktoyaktuk — it's a challenging, technical road," said Ester Bucci, senior communication manager for General Motors of Canada.

Ester Bucci, senior communications manager for General Motors of Canada, says the company picked the N.W.T. because it needed a 'bold location, a magical location.' (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

As part of its visit, the automotive company held a public viewing of its new trucks at the Midnight Sun Complex in Inuvik. It also hosted several waves of media personnel in the region, including social influencers and bloggers.

Besides the economic support, MacEachern said these kinds of productions give people from the territory who work in the film industry a chance to use their skills.

"We have a lot of talent … when we do play host to out-of-territory [productions], we want to create opportunities for our local film industry," she said.

"We have a film rebate program that does provide cash rebates on local hires … and the point of that is that not only are the productions leaving monetary benefits, but they're also creating a legacy for our local film industry."

With files from Mackenzie Scott