Canada has been bursting with major productions of late. Guillermo Del Toro’s conman drama, Nightmare Alley, starring Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper, has been shooting in the Greater Toronto Area. While Warner Bros.’ IT: Chapter Two, filmed in Port Hope, Oshawa and Toronto; Robin Wright’s feature directorial debut, Land, shot in Alberta; and Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy filmed in Hamilton, Toronto and Mississauga.
Canada’s industry received a further boost from Netflix — which in 2017 committed to invest $376m (c$500m) in Canadian content over five years — when the global streamer launched a production hub in Toronto by taking long-term leases on eight soundstages in different studios around the city.
The industry is concentrated in three regional hubs, each of which has an extensive crew base and modern infrastructure….
On the Pacific coast, British Columbia has Canadian Motion Picture Park Studios, North Shore Studios, the expanded Eagle Creek Studios, the newly built Vancouver Island Film Studios and Martini Film Studios, which is planning a 600,000 square feet expansion. BC has recently been the busiest centre and is the focus of the country’s VFX and post-production business.
In the east, Ontario is seeing rapid growth in production and construction. It offers 2.3 million square feet of state-of-the art studio space, with that figure set to double by 2022, as well as experienced technicians and crews, and a complete equipment and services supply chain.
“Ontario’s major cities like Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa have been the backdrop for New York, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Detroit and Washington, D.C., to name just a few,” enthuses Justin Cutler, Ontario Film Commissioner at Ontario Creates, to KFTV. “Smaller towns and sweeping rural vistas have hosted productions set in middle America and Europe. And given Ontario’s great ethnic diversity, its people and streetscapes have even represented Asia and the Middle East as well.” Ontario Creates and the Ontario Film Commission work with production leads to source locations, studio space and assist with permits, as well as host an online library of more than 40,000 location images.
Pinewood Toronto Studios — home to the nearly 46,000 square feet Mega Stage, one of the biggest soundstages in North America — broke ground on a multi-stage expansion at the end of 2018. CBS Stages Canada, with six new soundstages, opened in September. Aeon Studio Group is developing a 200,000 square feet studio with six soundstages in the city of Hamilton. And there are plans for First City Studio, a $100m facility near Toronto that will include a 70,000 square feet stage, to open in late 2020.
Québec, with Mels Cite du Cinema studio in Montreal, is the home of the French-language film community and recently saw the opening of a Montreal branch of US company Reel FX Animation Studios.
The major cities in the east and west are linked by the Trans-Canada Highway, but travel to the northern regions can be more difficult. The biggest international airports are in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Flight times from Vancouver in the west to Toronto and Montreal in the east range from four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half hours. Getting to Europe takes about 10 hours from Vancouver and seven from Toronto and Montreal.