The Northwest Territories (NWT) spans 1.17 million sq km - making it larger than France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands combined - and has a population of just 43,000, half of whom of whom live in the capital Yellowknife. Although the film and media arts industry in NWT is small, there are a number of experienced TV and film professionals available to offer their services and expertise to visiting production companies.
Factual series like Ice Pilots and Ice Road Truckers have been filmed in the NWT. So has CBC’s adventure series Arctic Air (produced by Omni Film Productions). Set in Yellowknife, the story follows a small airline and a group of renegade pilots who fly small planes to huge WWII propeller planes on daily missions. Producer Ian Hay says: "Although any location above the 60th parallel is not conventionally thought of as production-friendly, the Northwest Territories is the exception. With the well-connected and well-supplied hub of Yellowknife, it's possible to make almost anything.”
Other productions to have been based here include a Tropicana commercial, filmed in Inuvik, and Canada Over The Edge, an aerial documentary series produced by Arcadia Content in 2014 for Smithsonian Channel. The NWT Film Commission provided assistance with logistics and connected the film team with regional contacts.
Although there is no formal permitting system for filming in the Northwest Territories, permits, proof of insurance and documented permissions may be required for certain production activities on traditional land, city or government-owned land or properties, protected areas or historical sites. Some municipal governments have guidelines regarding filming in its jurisdiction. This includes parking regulations and policies regarding late night activities.
Contact NWTFC for assistance. In particular, if you plan to film on traditional lands make sure you read the Commission’s Aboriginal Land Information for relevant contacts.
Also there are specific rules that need to be observed when filming in Yellowknife or National Parks.
The NWT is made up of 33 communities and is comprised of picturesque mountains, unique wildlife, pristine lakes, forests, arctic coastline and tundra threaded throughout by stunning rivers. Highlights include the so-called 'Midnight Sun', where the sun comes up in May and doesn’t set until the third week in July; Virginia Falls, the highest and most dramatic cataract in all of Western Canada; Great Slave Lake and Great Bear, two of the largest freshwater lakes in North America; and The Salt Plains a unique combination of geology, plants and wildlife covering 370 square km of flat, salt-encrusted landscape.
The NWTFC adds: “Of course, we specialise in snow - endless miles of snow available well before most southern locations and lasting well into May at our northernmost latitudes. And not just any snow, our snow can range from hard packed drifts on open lakes and sea ice to deep powder in coniferous forests.”