Hollywood Rock? N.L. filmmakers say recent boom means they're not going anywhere

As industry leaders and up-and-comers wrap up in St. John's after its annual women's film festival, one thing is clear: many of them aren't flying home to Toronto or Los Angeles.

Given the scope of the industry's growth right here in Newfoundland, some of them live just a stroll away from the international festival's main venues.

And those who do live away say shooting here is less of a challenge than one would expect — especially considering the island's proximity to mainland resources.

"Shipping things can be a bit tricky sometimes," said Nicole Dorsey, director of Black Conflux, a feature drama that screened last week. The L.A.-based filmmaker said the production team quickly learned to plan ahead if they needed supplies.

"It was different than shooting in a bigger city. Just the support that was available — and there's an energy and excitement for shooting here," she said.

"But overall I think the benefits outweighed any challenges."

Gina Rae Anderson

Dorsey's project is part of what some describe as a thriving decade for the province's film industry. 

Gina Rae Anderson, a production and set designer who got her start nine years ago on Republic of Doyle and who recently worked on home-grown feature Body and Bones, said the demand for crew is so high that sometimes productions find themselves scrambling.

"There's definitely been times when you're sitting around with a group of people wracking your brain, asking 'who else can we hire?'" she said.

A report released last December seems to give their observations credence: big productions like the Jason Momoa-fronted Frontier and crime drama Hudson and Rex pump millions into the broader economy. The resulting job market means labour on the set is often in demand, Anderson says.

"I've thought about moving," Anderson said, but there's been so much work "it's never come to that."

Gender parity also growing

As the St. John's International Women's Film Festival winds down, Anderson said in recent years, it's also become easier for women to nab those coveted crew positions — and make a career here, too.

"There's room to grow," she said, describing how she and her colleagues have found jobs on various parts of sets, from location scouting to design.

Supplied by Nicole Dorsey

"It feels like a bit of a boys' club, is what we used to say," she said. "I don't feel that struggle so much anymore."

Anderson said the industry here acted as an incubator for her colleagues, many of whom moved up the ranks as more productions set up shop. Now there's no need to seek guidance, training or income elsewhere, she said.

Dorsey, too, noticed a shift.

"It's grown a lot over the past 10 years," she said, pointing to the natural backdrop of the island's coast and the "talented crew" on offer as reasons the province has witnessed a sustained boom.

"I think it will absolutely continue to grow."

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