T.O. Film Office confirms it won’t issue permits for up to 12 weeks

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The Toronto Film Office said it will comply with all orders from Toronto Public Health, meaning production will likely remain at a standstill until late June. (Unlocked)

The Toronto Film Office on Wednesday confirmed it will not issue film permits while safety restrictions and public health orders are still in place, meaning shooting in the most populous metropolitan area in Canada will likely remain at a standstill for up to 12 weeks.

Toronto Public Health on Tuesday advised that only essential businesses should remain open, and directed those not affected by the novel coronavirus to stay home except to access healthcare or medicine, purchase groceries once a week, walk dogs or exercise while maintaining a distance of two metres from others.

Those measures will be in place for up to three months, according to the city, though the duration of the restrictions could be adjusted should circumstances change.

“At the Film Office, our first concern is for the health and safety of Torontonians, and so we will be fully complying with these orders,” said a statement from Marguerite Pigott, Toronto’s film commissioner and director of entertainment industries.

The Film Office noted that for film shoots deemed “essential” – such as a COVID-related PSA – it would consider issuing permits for crews of one or two people.

Pigott also said the Film Office is making preparations for when production does eventually get up and running again. “We know that when production eventually starts to resume, it won’t be business as usual, and we’re preparing for the ‘next normal,’” she said, noting also that the city is exploring ways to anticipate and accommodate pent-up demand for production space once the restrictions are lifted. Conversations are ongoing with various industry personnel regarding health and safety measures that “will need to be in place for all of us to feel comfortable and protected while we work,” she added.

The Toronto Film Office issues more than 3,000 permits to north of 1,300 film, TV and commercial projects each year. According to figures released by the city last April, production spending in Toronto hit $1.96 billion in 2018.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) – which delivers more than $350 million in funding annually to support the TV and digital media industries in Canada – said that over 1,500 projects supported by the fund have been impacted by shutdowns and postponements following the pandemic outbreak across the country.

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