The film and television industry in northeastern Ontario got a funding boost on Friday as the provincial government announced more than $7.3 million to support 13 projects in the region.
Part of the investment will go towards the production of nine film and television series shooting in Sudbury, North Bay, and surrounding regions.
The remaining dollars will be used to support other projects, including the establishment of a post-production facility in Sudbury and a feasibility study to create an arts training facility on Manitoulin Island.
The funding is being provided through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
“Our government is proud to support the film and television industry in northeastern Ontario, which continues to create good jobs and develop skilled local talent,” said Nipissing MPP Victor Fedeli.
“As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, helping northern production and post-production projects succeed is more important than ever.”
A Stellar Film Inc. will receive $530,000 to produce the feature film Stellar, which is currently shooting on location in Atikameksheng Anishnawbek territory.
It was also announced that Ger’er Done Productions 6 Inc. will receive $2.8 million to produce season six of the popular Letterkenny television series, which has just completed production.
Letterkenny shoots in the Sudbury area.
“I’ve been working up north since 2011, and to see the infrastructure growth year over year, and seeing the crews building experience and growing in size – it’s pretty miraculous to see,” said Mark Montefiore, president of New Metric Media and executive producer of the multiple Canadian Screen Award winning comedy.
“People that had to leave Northern Ontario to be in an industry that they dreamed of since they were kids now realize that there is a great opportunity not only to survive in the arts in Northern Ontario but to flourish and thrive in it.”
Montefiore said that New Metric Media is gearing up for a “Letterkenny” spinoff called “Shoresy” which will also be filmed in Sudbury.
“It’s going to play Sudbury, which is amazing. It will be the second time that New Metric Media has played Sudbury for the beautiful, glorious town that it actually is,” said Montefiore.
“I am proud to be a part of the evolution of storytelling in Northern Ontario where we can actually play our cities for what they are – the beauty, the bruises, and everything that comes along with it.”
Black Rectangle Brand Inc., a design and fabrication shop located in Coniston that specializes in prop and set pieces for the film industry, will receive $83,550 to renovate, purchase new equipment, and increase its marketing capacity.
A boutique film post-production facility located in Toronto called Red Square Motion Inc. will receive $64,968 to establish a post-production facility in Sudbury.
The facility will focus on serving and hiring residents of Northern Ontario.
“The continued investments of companies moving to the north that are investing in post-production and in the ancillary services that are provided to (the film and television industry) are creating permanent full-time employment in communities in Northern Ontario,” said Peter Chirico, president and CEO of the North Bay Chamber of Commerce.
The Weengushk Film Institute, a not-for-profit organization and educational centre focused on building a strong role for aspiring Indigenous youth and visible minorities within the media arts industry will also receive money.
Located in M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, the institute will get $50,000 for a feasibility study to create an arts training facility.
Other projects include $500,000 for Mulmur Feed Co. Ltd. to produce the feature film All My Puny Sorrows, which is based on a Miriam Toews book by the same name, and $750,000 for Stratagem RC to produce the feature film Lakewood in North Bay.
“The financial support of the NOHFC and the beauty of North Bay was instrumental in bringing this Naomi Watts project to northern Ontario,” said Alex Lalonde, COO of Lakewood Producer and Stratagem RX.
“We look forward to coming back for several projects we have in the pipeline. We are also thrilled to announce that Lakewood has been accepted to the Toronto International Film Festival and will screen in the special presentation category this fall.”
The film and television industry plays an important role in driving economic growth and creating opportunities in Northern Ontario, officials said.
Producer Leif Bristow, who worked on television series Rising Suns, said that the industry has “an immediate and vast” economic impact on local communities.
The film and television industry can create 50 to 150 local jobs per project and produce economic spinoffs that benefit multiple sectors.
“Because we’re not a brick-and-mortar industry, a lot of times it’s hard to understand the impact we can actually have,” he said.
“If we invest $1 into the film industry, the metric is somewhere between $1.74 and $4.11 into the local economy. We’re one of the highest revenue-generating industries because of our direct investment into those communities.”
The NOHFC promotes economic prosperity in the north by providing financial assistance to projects that stimulate recovery, growth, job creation and skills development.
It has spent more than than $317 million in 3,134 projects in Northern Ontario, leveraging more than $1.3 billion in investments and creating or sustaining or sustaining more than 4,850 jobs.
The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.
Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star