Film and television students will find 2012 a great time to graduate as Toronto’s film scene looks to be working flat out, said Toronto Film Commissioner Peter Finestone.
Ontario’s film and television industry posted its best year on the books since the Ontario Media Development Corporation started keeping records in 1986. The sector brought $1.26 billion to the province — a $300 million increase from 2010.
Around 30,000 full-time direct and spin-off jobs were filled, with some of them employing Centennial College film instructor Malcolm Byard’s students.
“A lot of Centennial grads and fourth and fifth semester students were able to work on set last year on TV shows like Alphas, Warehouse 13, and Nikita, and big feature films like Total Recall and Cosmopolis,” Byard said. “One or two big feature films a year really make a huge difference.”
Monty Montgomerie, a business agent with the International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees, Local 873 says 2012 is already off to a strong start.
“We’ve already broken last year’s record for crew bookings in January and February,” said Montgomerie, who partners film technicians with production companies for employment.
This sudden boost in business, film commissioner Finestone added, stems from the new management of Pinewood Studios, the first studio complex in the country that can accommodate the production of blockbuster movies.
Renovated in 2008, the studio holds six sound stages that the previous owner originally charged astronomical fees for.
“Pinewood bought the studio, dropped the rates and now, it’s fully booked throughout the year,” Finestone said. Another factor was Ontario’s reputation for quality film crews and post production.
Byard explained that before 2011, states like Michigan awarded massive labour tax breaks of 50–60 per cent, which saw thousands of unemployed auto workers work as film technicians.
“Smaller feature films that would’ve been shot in Toronto were shot in Detroit,” he said. “However, film producers found that their savings were spent on reshoots because the level of work wasn’t good, causing them to return back to Toronto.”
Montgomerie said that the film and TV industries are recognizing that Toronto offers the whole package.
“On top of Pinewood and our world class crews, the city also has an ideal urban location, and great 25 per cent tax incentives,” he concluded.