A new animation production office planned for North Bay is going to provide a lot of local jobs and opportunities next year.
A Toronto company called Rob Heydon Productions is planning a couple of film projects slated for the spring and should make a significant commitment to northern economic development, and bolster further job creation in the film and animation industry.
Owner Rob Heydon is looking to open a new animation studio for his new animation series, "Fox and Hare" and will be looking to staff the studio with senior animators as well as locals and students from animation programs up north.
He told BayToday he is looking to spend over $100 million in the region, creating employment and economic spin-offs from his investments and productions and wants the animation studio to be a permanent addition to the city's booming movie industry.
"We need senior animators and then we can hire a lot of junior animators and kids right out of school because a lot of it is very technical but a lot of it can be trained on the job. We're going to need equipment for each of our staff as well to work on a computer and we'll have to build the infrastructure, the pipeline pretty much from scratch," he said.
Heydon says it's more about finding and renovating the right space to house everyone, something in the 20 to 40,000 sq. ft. range.
"There'll be an IT department, human resources, the technical computer staff and then the animation staff...about 60 to 90 people."
The Fox and Hare is an animated TV series with 52 episodes in the first season.
"We'd be in production for two years and then there may be another season. We're talking about doing a feature film of that show as well. Then there are other feature films that we have in development that are animation projects, so we would continue to feed the pipeline of projects," he explained.
Previous Heydon productions in the north include 'Journey Home', released in 2014 and the dark romantic comedy Irving Welsh’s Ecstasy, released in 2011. These films had budgets of over $23 million to shoot in the region.
Heydon recently announced his new project 'Last Rituals', set to start shooting in the first quarter of 2018 with a production budget of over $15 million. Last Rituals is a six-part Nordic Noir mini-series, based on the Icelandic ‘Thora’ mysteries and a co-production with Joni Sighvatsson, Chairman and CEO of ScanBox. Heydon has started location scouting and casting in Sudbury and has applied for funds from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
Last Rituals will be shot In Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.
Heydon is presently location scouting in North Bay for another feature called The Kind Worth Killing but can't pin down a production start just yet.
"That's really dependent on cast, so we have offers out right now and we're looking to shoot that next summer, but it depends on when the cast is available. We may shoot in the spring or fall. With a lot of these projects, you have to remain flexible because it's all about cast availability.
"That project has much bigger names. There's pre-sales already in place from a number of large partners in Germany, France, and Scandinavia. All are committed to the project but they all have approvals over the cast so we have to hire actors that work in all these different territories."
Heydon graduated from George Brown College - Screenwriting and the University of Western Ontario - Bachelor of Arts in Film.
See the movie trailer for Irving Welsh's Ecstasy below.