John Tory to return to L.A. to promote Toronto

The Toronto mayor will lead a team of 22 Toronto-based companies on a three-day visit next week to tout the city's production benefits.

Toronto mayor John Tory and a team of industry representatives will once again head to Los Angeles to promote the city’s film and television industry.

The business mission, which runs from Jan. 23 to 25, will see Tory and a delegation of 22 Toronto-based companies visiting various studios in L.A. to sell Toronto as a filming destination for U.S. film and TV productions. This year’s delegation is double the size of the one sent to L.A. last year.

Tory said he plans to hold meetings with newer content producers such as Netflix, in order to encourage the SVOD service to shoot more of its original series in Toronto. “We’re going to say to them ‘it’s time you came to find out why Toronto is the best place in the world to produce series,’” he said. Netflix has previously produced series in Toronto such as Hemlock Grove and Don Carmody TV’s Between. In addition, Guru Studios has produced two series for Netflix, including Justin Time Go!, which launched last summer. The Toronto-based studio is also currently in production on True and the Rainbow Kingdom ahead of a scheduled summer launch on the SVOD.

In addition, Tory’s team will be making the case for L.A. studios to do a greater amount of post-production work in the city.

Cinespace VP Jim Mirkopolous, who is once again part of the industry team bound for L.A., told Playback that part of the message will be to assure L.A. studios of the stability of Ontario’s tax credit. In April 2015, the province’s Production Services Tax Credit was cut to 21.5%, from 25%, undermining in particular the stability of TV productions that can spend multiple seasons shooting in Toronto.

Another message coming out of the mission will be to emphasize that Toronto does in fact have space for more production, with city departments dealing in real estate currently working to address the capacity issue by making more space available to film and TV projects. While Tory did not go into specifics, he said that there is some interest from the private sector in building additional space.

The trip will consist of four industry events, one of which will include a presentation by Toronto director Julien Lutz (aka Director X). The delegation will consist of representatives from Canada Film Capital Corporation, Cinespace Film Studios, Deluxe, I.A.T.S.E. Local 873, Legend 3D, Mr. X Inc., NABET 700-­M UNIFOR, Pinewood Toronto Studios, Production Resource Group (PRG), re-­lo TO Ltd., Revival629 Studios, Ryerson University, SIM Group, Soho Metropolitan Hotel and Residences, SpinVFX, Take 5 Productions, Technicolor, TriBro Studios. The Hazelton Hotel, The Ritz Carlton Hotel Toronto, William F. White International and York University.

Toronto’s production industry is riding a sustained high, posting five consecutive years of $1 billion in annual production spending. In 2015, production spending exceeded $1.5 billion and the industry supported 30,000 jobs, according to press release issued by the City of Toronto.

The trip comes while the Canadian dollar sits at about $0.75 against the U.S. dollar (compared with approximately $0.73 a year ago).

Last February, Tory took a team of industry stakeholders and representatives including Pinewood Toronto Studios president Blake Steels, Deluxe’s VP of sales Diane Cuthbert, Cinespace’s Mirkopoulos, Canadian Film Capital president David Carter and TriBro Studios president Peter Apostolopoulos.

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