Canadian film and TV has a new star: a plunging loonie

With the Canadian dollar plunging in value, industry players expect a strong year for Canadian film and TV production.

With the Canadian dollar plunging in value, industry players expect a strong year for Canadian film and TV production.

That’s even stronger than the sector already was when the loonie and the American greenback were virtually at par.

“The current exchange rate is helping to raise our profile, but it’s not just the dollar. It’s everything that’s contributing to our continuing interest by our Hollywood clients,” OMDC manager of industry development Donna Zuchlinski told Playback Daily, as she pointed to quality talent, crews and production infrastructure as added benefits.

Zuchlinski also pointed to strong domestic film and TV production underpinning high shooting levels here.

“The Hollywood business is great and it’s been really great for supporting the infrastructure. But the domestic industry has been quite the backbone of our industry for some time,” she added.

Comweb Group chairman and CEO Paul Bronfman also anticipates a strong year for the Canadian film and TV production sector.

“The calls have gone up, to Pinewood (Toronto Studios) and Whites,” Bronfman said Tuesday at William F. White International’s February Freeze technology showcase in Toronto.

At the same time, he agreed that continuing strength in Canadian production activity will sustain the sector, whatever the currency fluctuations and levels of Hollywood production to come this year.

“It’s the Canadian product that will make or break our business,” Bronfman said.

Already booked for shooting in Canada on the foreign front is Syfy’s Defiance series, which started the cameras rolling on its third season this week through June in Toronto, and the Lifetime telefilm Perfect High, starring Bella Thorne and directed by Vanessa Parise, now lensing in Victoria, B.C. through Feb. 22.

And Starz’ anthology TV series The Girlfriend Experience, based on Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film of the same name, is to shoot in Toronto this spring.

“We’re hearing about new projects almost daily,” Rob Sim, CEO of the SIM Group, which also owns and runs P.S. Production Services, said.
Sim said the most recent currency exchange rate savings, combined with available tax credits, make Canada competitive with Georgia and Louisiana, two popular locales for Hollywood film and TV shoots.

He added Hollywood producers planning shoots north of the border tend to buy their Canadian dollars around six months ahead.

That means the benefits of the current plunge in the value of the loonie has yet to show up for Los Angeles producers coming north.

“We could be in for a nice run for two or three years,” Sim said, given projections the Canadian dollar will stay low in value for some time.