Northern Ontario has hosted a growing number of notable projects in recent years, with more anticipated in the Spring as producers look to take advantage of the region’s various backdrops, film-friendly communities, and generous financial incentives.
Greater Sudbury, the region’s largest city, offers the most developed crew pool and support infrastructure, including a William F. White film equipment rental facility and Northern Ontario Film Studios’ 16,000-square-foot stage. Greater Sudbury provides a vast natural environment as well as urban settings that showcase its heritage and modern architecture.
Producers of a forthcoming Resident Evil movie reboot were able to dress up pockets of Sudbury to recreate their industrialized Raccoon City setting. And in the streaming world, Crave’s hit comedy series Letterkenny is expected back in town to shoot a 10th season of small-town hijinks.
About 90 minutes east of Sudbury, the City of North Bay has seen significant activity over the past few years with just over $46 million in regional spending in 2019. Hallmark is a repeat customer, having shot a number of Christmas features and returning for season two of the Western drama series When Hope Calls. The city also recently hosted indie features All My Puny Sorrows and Delia’s Gone.
North Bay is the closest northern city to the GTA and offers ample lakes and parklands, classic downtown streetscapes and vast forest filming options which appear in CTV series Cardinal and Carter. The proximity to Nipissing First Nation also provides excellent training and partnership opportunities on Indigenous projects such as Unsettled and Trickster.
To the west, Sault Ste. Marie offers rolling hills, farms and waterfalls, all within 15 minutes of a city centre featuring unoccupied historical buildings. American talent can fly into Michigan’s Chippewa County International Airport, a 30-minute drive across the border. Upcoming projects include Canadian feature The Protector.
Further northwest, Thunder Bay offers an urban location with diverse architecture and a backdrop of mountains, forests, fields and giant Lake Superior. Fort William Historical Park is ideal for period shooting with more than 40 reconstructed pioneer buildings and a working farm. Notable productions that shot in this area include Sleeping Giant and Angelique’s Isle.
Further north is Timmins, a popular spot for winter commercial shoots. One of the world’s top mineral-producing centres, it offers mine shafts, open pit and surface mine locations, as well as lumber mills and deep forests within 20 minutes of accommodations. Timmins also hosted the feature production of Two Lovers and a Bear.
Parry Sound is furthest south, and only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto. Its Georgian Bay marinas, cottage-country feel, and natural scenery attracted producers of CBC drama series Northern Rescue and family adventure film Hero Dog: The Journey Home.
After over a decade of growth in Northern Ontario’s film and television production industry, there is considerable interest among stakeholders and investors to introduce major infrastructure in the coming years, including new studio space. Freshwater Production Studios has recently announced the introduction of a purpose-built film and television production studio in Greater Sudbury.
FPS will be a purpose-built film and television studio to be constructed on a 24-acre lot in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. In Phase 1, the 116,000 sq. ft. facility will feature three clear span soundstages (20,000 sq. ft., 20,000 sq. ft. and 18,000 sq. ft.) with 35′ ceilings. There will be 23,000 sq. ft. of production and soundstage offices in addition to wardrobe, mill, paint, and other ancillary spaces. Visit freshwaterproductionstudios.com for more information.
CION, which offers consulting services, can help producers navigate government funding incentives, including the Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit (and its 10% bonus for shooting outside the GTA), and the film and TV stream of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. Learn more HERE.