Toronto a filmmaking home for Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro filmed his acclaimed feature The Shape of Water on stages and on location in Toronto as part of a long-term informal commitment to the Canadian city.

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro filmed his acclaimed feature The Shape of Water on stages and on location in Toronto as part of a long-term informal commitment to the city.

The director has a long history of filming in Ontario’s provincial capital and shot both his gothic drama Crimson Peak and the monster movie Pacific Rim in the city.

Toronto a filmmaking home for Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro

Toronto is also home for del Toro and his producer J Miles Dale, which makes the city a natural production location.

Del Toro is in addition a key creative force behind TV virus drama The Strain that has been a long-term resident at Cinespace Film Studios in Toronto, the facility that went on to host stage work for The Shape of Water.

Dennis Chapman was production manager on The Shape of Water and has also been involved with The Strain in a similar role.

“The producers were in production prior to prepping Shape, shooting the third season of the TV series The Strain at Cinespace Film Studios,” says Chapman in comments to KFTV. “We already occupied all three stages. The Shape apartment sets, the laboratory, the research offices, the restaurant and corridors were all shot at Cinespace.

“The production office, wardrobe suites and construction shop were all in the same building. Those departments with the same crews rolled over from The Strain. Only set dressing lock-up and physical effects were housed elsewhere. The editing suites were at the studio."

See KFTV's productiong guide for more on filming in Ontario and for local contacts


“Coincidently, Andy Muschietti’s It was produced simultaneously in the same building as there are several office suites on the premises. Guillermo del Toro and Miles produced Andy’s first feature Mama.”

Muschietti’s film version of horror story It doubled Toronto suburbs for Maine in the north-east US.

KFTV has previously explored how Guillermo del Toro and his team decided to film dry for wet for key underwater-set scenes in The Shape of Water.

“There was no debate regarding what would or would not be shot dry for wet,” says Chapman. “Mr del Toro knows exactly what he needs and with brilliant DoP Dan Laustsen, everything was designed well beforehand.

The Shape of Water

“The effect was created with atmosphere and stunt rigging designed by stunt co-ordinator Steve Lucescu.

"An important aspect was the projectors, which created a moving lighting effect with the use of caustics designed by [Toronto-based visual effects company] Mr X, who again enhanced the footage. We ruined several projectors due to the heaven atmosphere effect on the lenses and electronic components.

“The projectors were used in both the laboratory to create lighting reflections from the monsters pool and in the apartment set.”

Real water was still used for some scenes, such as for a story moment where a bathroom floods.

“The actors were submerged, as was the entire bathroom set that was moved from the apartment and reconstructed above the tank, then lowered into the water to create the image of the bathroom being flooded.”

Productions currently filming in Toronto include superhero movie Shazam!, which is scheduled to wrap in the second week of May.

Other production facilities include Pinewood Toronto Studios, which will open a new stage in the next few months.

BTS images: Kerry Hayes

Toronto a filmmaking home for Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro filmed his acclaimed feature The Shape of Water on stages and on location in Toronto as part of a long-term informal commitment to the city.

The director has a long history of filming in Ontario’s provincial capital and shot both his gothic drama Crimson Peak and the monster movie Pacific Rim in the city.

Toronto is also home for del Toro and his producer J Miles Dale, which makes the city a natural production location.

Del Toro is in addition a key creative force behind TV virus drama The Strain that has been a long-term resident at Cinespace Film Studios in Toronto, the facility that went on to host stage work for The Shape of Water.

Dennis Chapman was production manager on The Shape of Water and has also been involved with The Strain in a similar role.

“The producers were in production prior to prepping Shape, shooting the third season of the TV series The Strain at Cinespace Film Studios,” says Chapman in comments to KFTV. “We already occupied all three stages. The Shape apartment sets, the laboratory, the research offices, the restaurant and corridors were all shot at Cinespace.

“The production office, wardrobe suites and construction shop were all in the same building. Those departments with the same crews rolled over from The Strain. Only set dressing lock-up and physical effects were housed elsewhere. The editing suites were at the studio."

See KFTV's productiong guide for more on filming in Ontario and for local contacts


“Coincidently, Andy Muschietti’s It was produced simultaneously in the same building as there are several office suites on the premises. Guillermo del Toro and Miles produced Andy’s first feature Mama.”

Muschietti’s film version of horror story It doubled Toronto suburbs for Maine in the north-east US.

KFTV has previously explored how Guillermo del Toro and his team decided to film dry for wet for key underwater-set scenes in The Shape of Water.

“There was no debate regarding what would or would not be shot dry for wet,” says Chapman. “Mr del Toro knows exactly what he needs and with brilliant DoP Dan Laustsen, everything was designed well beforehand.

The Shape of Water

“The effect was created with atmosphere and stunt rigging designed by stunt co-ordinator Steve Lucescu.

"An important aspect was the projectors, which created a moving lighting effect with the use of caustics designed by [Toronto-based visual effects company] Mr X, who again enhanced the footage. We ruined several projectors due to the heaven atmosphere effect on the lenses and electronic components.

“The projectors were used in both the laboratory to create lighting reflections from the monsters pool and in the apartment set.”

Real water was still used for some scenes, such as for a story moment where a bathroom floods.

“The actors were submerged, as was the entire bathroom set that was moved from the apartment and reconstructed above the tank, then lowered into the water to create the image of the bathroom being flooded.”

Productions currently filming in Toronto include superhero movie Shazam!, which is scheduled to wrap in the second week of May.

Other production facilities include Pinewood Toronto Studios, which will open a new stage in the next few months.

BTS images: Kerry Hayes

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