The provincial government keeps rolling out the financial incentives encouraging the film and television production sector to look north and the industry keeps creating content while spinning off local economic benefits.
Following an unplanned intermission brought on by the pandemic, local producer David Anselmo says after five weeks back shooting, he's noticing the filming volume is returning to normal levels and the potential for growth is imminent.
"The wonderful thing about the film industry is it rebounds very quickly," says Anselmo. "We set up shop, we're like a carnival troupe and we get going pretty quick. When the provincial opened up the region to allow us to start filming again, the industry has bounced back quickly."
See related story: Local Film Industry ready to return
Anselmo is an executive for Hideaway Pictures, the company receiving the bulk of a $5.5 million investment in four production companies through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
MPP Vic Fedeli made the announcement Friday on the set of Too Close for Christmas outside the North Bay Museum, saying the funding will create new jobs and promote economic development.
"Film has been a huge sector for North Bay," Fedeli said. "We have built an industry here from scratch and it's absolutely essential that the provincial government supports the film industry."
See also: More funds for the local film industry
The Ontario government says it is providing the funding to help support the thriving film and television industry, create jobs and promote economic development in North Bay and the surrounding area.
"Our government is proud to support the region's film and television industry," said Fedeli. "As we continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, we remain committed to supporting northern production and post-production projects — developing skilled, local talent and creating good jobs for our next generation."
NOHFC investments include:
- $3 million for Hideaway Pictures Inc. to produce, in and around Powassan, season two of the television series When Hope Calls.
- $1.5 million for Hideaway Pictures Inc. to produce, in and around North Bay, the television movies Crossword Mysteries 3, Crossword Mysteries 4 and Crossword Mysteries 5.
- $500,000 for HP Christmas D Productions Inc. to produce, in and around North Bay, the television movie Too Close For Christmas.
- $462,628 for Mythic Trips Entertainment Corp. to produce, in and around North Bay, the feature film Flee The Light.
- $122,457 for Post Production North in North Bay to expand its current service offerings to include digital descriptive video. Digital descriptive video is the vocal description of the action and visuals taking place in between dialogue in a movie or television show.
"As we focus on recovery, our government is proud to make targeted investments in growing and emerging sectors, such as the north's film and television industry," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, which oversees the NOHFC. "Today's investments will help stimulate employment opportunities and economic diversification and development."
Anselmo says the investment from the provincial government is welcomed, especially as the film industry finds its footing following the COVID-19 shutdown.
"The province has really supported small businesses," especially during the pandemic, observes Anselmo, and the financial investments "incentivize the region to make it cost-effective to film movies up here. As it's cost-effective, it builds a movie industry from within."
Anselmo estimates with today's $5.5 million investment from Ontario, production companies will easily put triple that amount back into the local economy. He pegs long-term economic spinoff locally to be in the tens of millions of dollars since the government incentives have been offered.
"It touches on a lot of facets of the community — hotels, caterers, crews, car rental companies — so you're going to see a big cash injection coming into the communities," says Anselmo.
He adds, content is king right now. With so many spending more time at home and with more time on their hands, streaming services cannot get enough titles to offer customers. Anselmo says this has led to growth across the industry, which in turn, trickles down to northern Ontario-based productions.
"The content that has been needed for the last six months hasn't be created and hasn't been provided. I believe in the next year-and-a-half we're going to see an influx of productions happening all over the place because of that gap," he says.
Locals are also making careers out of the work experiences gained on sets in North Bay and the surrounding area. Anselmo says workers struggling in what were once temporary part-time gigs necessitating a second job are now "honing their skills," close to home.