Northern Ontario's film boom is here to stay, local movie producers say
Sudbury film production company announces expansion to permanent facility
A string of recent commitments to Sudbury continue to point towards a booming film industry in northern Ontario.
That's what Laurentian University motion picture arts professor and Sudbury film producer, Jason Jallet believes, and he's not alone.
Last week, Toronto-based film production company, William F. White International, announced it is expanding to a permanent, nearly 5,000 square-foot location on Cambrian Heights Drive in Sudbury.
Whites Chairman/CEO, Paul Bronfman commented that, "Sudbury is easily one of the fastest-growing regions in the Canadian film and television industry, and our upcoming expansion is the perfect complement to that success."
Jallet says Whites is easily "the biggest player" in terms of film production services and equipment rental in Canada.
He added the company's move into a bigger, permanent Sudbury workspace is proof that studios are more than ever looking north for equipment, sets and crews.
"When you get the biggest player in town making long-term infrastructure investments, I would expect to see everybody else starting to do similar stuff in a short period of time," Jallet noted.
Northern shoots an attractive prospect
The biggest draw for film studios looking North is less expensive production prices.
Since 2004, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) has funded 80 projects across northern Ontario to the tune of $54.8 million.
Companies filming in Sudbury can also benefit from provincial and federal tax credits like the Canada Production Services Tax Credit and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit.
According to the City of Greater Sudbury, over 89 films or TV series have been shot in Sudbury since 2012, resulting in approximately $90 million in economic benefit.
Fifty-six percent of crew members involved in those projects were local.
Major international players aren't the only ones taking note.
Patrick Tobin essentially runs Inspired Image's Sudbury office by himself. The production company's main headquarters are in Vancouver and Toronto.
But Tobin said his company also had to move to bigger Sudbury offices over the past year due to increased demand.
Two Los Angeles-based studios have contacted him in the past few weeks, interested in knowing more about the services and sets available in the North.
Tobin — who was born and raised in Sudbury — noted NOHFC funding is the main factor leading to the northern film boom, but far from the only one.
"We're seeing lots of passionate crews, lots of people working in the film industry, and it's only growing," he said.
"Having highly-skilled individuals in all aspects of film, from locations, to catering, to accounting, to lighting and grip, to camera trainees — it's all up here. That's really what's drawing people from all over."
Tobin added the stunning scenery that comes with each season has also come to the attention of film and TV studios.
Jallet said he'd like to see local talent one day take its film industry to the next level: northern Ontario-born people telling northern Ontario stories.
"We're very much a service industry right now, where we're taking projects from abroad and producing them locally," Jallet said.
Last year featured the first graduating class for Laurentian's motion picture arts program. Jallet believes youth is where the future lies.
"In an ideal world, the [northern] film industry is one-third Canadian films, one-third international films, one-third local films," Jallet said.
"That's really the next chapter to come for the film industry in northern Ontario."
With files from Benjamin Aubé