Nov 25, 2020
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Front Page, Industry News

Can a mega-studio lure Hollywood back north?

Toronto’s film industry champions rose from directors’ chairs perched in front of the city’s new mega-studio yesterday and opened their arms to Batman, the Terminator and Harry Potter.

But Filmport, designed to lure big-budget Hollywood features, officially opened without any of the blockbuster films it craves signed up to break in its seven new sound stages. In fact, the centre’s debut comes at a time when Hollywood North’s bright lights have dimmed to a flicker.

Filmport’s gem is Stage 4, a gaping cavern of highly insulated space supported by red flying buttresses on the outside. At 45,900 square feet, it is reportedly North America’s largest purpose-built sound stage – a place to make the multimillion-dollar movies that industry officials say pass over Toronto for lack of space.

“You open the door to one of those studios and all you see is the big empty space – what’s the big deal?” acclaimed Toronto director David Cronenberg said at the opening of Filmport’s first phase.
Camera crews gather at Wednesday’s official opening of the first phase of Filmport, Toronto’s new mega-studio. Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail
Enlarge Image

Camera crews gather at Wednesday’s official opening of the first phase of Filmport, Toronto’s new mega-studio. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
The Globe and Mail

“For me, it gets the creative juices going. … The mega-stage is my Notre Dame, my cathedral. I plan to worship there regularly.”

Still, with the threat of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild drying up work from south of the border, Toronto’s film industry – hit by 2003’s SARS outbreak, the soaring loonie and a flurry of tax credits in competing jurisdictions in North America – is struggling to regain its lustre.

Last year, production companies spent $791-million filming on location in Toronto – a 7.3-per-cent increase over 2006, but a long way from 2000’s peak of $1.3-billion, according to city hall’s film and television office. And the first half of this year looks even grimmer, Filmport officials said.

“We know we’re going to go through a tough time for a while,” said Filmport president Ken Ferguson. “Even when times are tough, the film industry does tend to get through hard times. We’re very confident we’ll get our share.”

Dwindling work from the U.S. is one of the largest concerns, said Paul Bronfman, president of the Comweb Group, a partner with majority-owner Rose Corp., in Filmport. Big-name blockbusters are getting bottlenecked at the source as directors wait out the SAG labour issues, he said.

“The temperature is bad and really bad,” Mr. Bronfman said. But if Toronto can wait it out, he added, the facility will help Canada regain its competitive edge.

In the past, Toronto’s allure was in the wallet, Mr. Ferguson said. The city appealed to made-for-TV movies and low-budget films that could shoot in warehouses or on the streets. But Filmport’s hope is that Toronto can face off with Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver to draw big-name films.

Certainly the city will see its share of star power next month when the Toronto International Film Festival attracts crowds of industry celebrities, many of whom might take note of the new facility. “The city’s just hopping in September,” said Rhonda Silverstone, Toronto Film and Television Office manager.

Karl Pruner, the Toronto president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, said he’s looking forward to using the Filmport stages for Canadian productions, though many productions are currently starved for cash.

When work starts flowing again from the U.S., big pictures in town will keep local performers and background workers busy, he said.

Filmport sits on a former petroleum storage site, prime waterfront land east of the Don River and south of Lake Shore Boulevard, purchased by Toronto Economic Development Corp. (TEDCO) and leased to Filmport.

Eventually, the estimated $700-million project is intended to be an industry hub. The 47-acre lot is expected to house film and television companies, union and guild offices, film schools, restaurants and shops.

“Five years ago where we stand today was essentially a wasteland,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said yesterday. “Five years from today, Filmport will be the epicentre of the creative economy of Toronto and will have put us very clearly in our rightful place on the world stage.”

Critics argue that with the pending shutdown of Toronto Film Studios’ property at 629 Eastern Ave. and the eviction of Cinespace from its Queens Quay location last year, the total amount of studio space in Toronto has actually shrunk.

But proponents of the mega-studio say it fills a long-standing hole in the industry.

“That’s what this entire studio is about is filling a gap and creating this kind of space where there are no compromises and everything is perfect for the large blockbuster films,” said TEDCO president Jeffrey Steiner. “That’s what Hollywood has asked Toronto to make sure we have.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

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Front Page, Industry News

Can a mega-studio lure Hollywood back north?

Toronto’s film industry champions rose from directors’ chairs perched in front of the city’s new mega-studio yesterday and opened their arms to Batman, the Terminator and Harry Potter.

But Filmport, designed to lure big-budget Hollywood features, officially opened without any of the blockbuster films it craves signed up to break in its seven new sound stages. In fact, the centre’s debut comes at a time when Hollywood North’s bright lights have dimmed to a flicker.

Filmport’s gem is Stage 4, a gaping cavern of highly insulated space supported by red flying buttresses on the outside. At 45,900 square feet, it is reportedly North America’s largest purpose-built sound stage – a place to make the multimillion-dollar movies that industry officials say pass over Toronto for lack of space.

“You open the door to one of those studios and all you see is the big empty space – what’s the big deal?” acclaimed Toronto director David Cronenberg said at the opening of Filmport’s first phase.
Camera crews gather at Wednesday’s official opening of the first phase of Filmport, Toronto’s new mega-studio. Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail
Enlarge Image

Camera crews gather at Wednesday’s official opening of the first phase of Filmport, Toronto’s new mega-studio. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
The Globe and Mail

“For me, it gets the creative juices going. … The mega-stage is my Notre Dame, my cathedral. I plan to worship there regularly.”

Still, with the threat of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild drying up work from south of the border, Toronto’s film industry – hit by 2003’s SARS outbreak, the soaring loonie and a flurry of tax credits in competing jurisdictions in North America – is struggling to regain its lustre.

Last year, production companies spent $791-million filming on location in Toronto – a 7.3-per-cent increase over 2006, but a long way from 2000’s peak of $1.3-billion, according to city hall’s film and television office. And the first half of this year looks even grimmer, Filmport officials said.

“We know we’re going to go through a tough time for a while,” said Filmport president Ken Ferguson. “Even when times are tough, the film industry does tend to get through hard times. We’re very confident we’ll get our share.”

Dwindling work from the U.S. is one of the largest concerns, said Paul Bronfman, president of the Comweb Group, a partner with majority-owner Rose Corp., in Filmport. Big-name blockbusters are getting bottlenecked at the source as directors wait out the SAG labour issues, he said.

“The temperature is bad and really bad,” Mr. Bronfman said. But if Toronto can wait it out, he added, the facility will help Canada regain its competitive edge.

In the past, Toronto’s allure was in the wallet, Mr. Ferguson said. The city appealed to made-for-TV movies and low-budget films that could shoot in warehouses or on the streets. But Filmport’s hope is that Toronto can face off with Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver to draw big-name films.

Certainly the city will see its share of star power next month when the Toronto International Film Festival attracts crowds of industry celebrities, many of whom might take note of the new facility. “The city’s just hopping in September,” said Rhonda Silverstone, Toronto Film and Television Office manager.

Karl Pruner, the Toronto president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, said he’s looking forward to using the Filmport stages for Canadian productions, though many productions are currently starved for cash.

When work starts flowing again from the U.S., big pictures in town will keep local performers and background workers busy, he said.

Filmport sits on a former petroleum storage site, prime waterfront land east of the Don River and south of Lake Shore Boulevard, purchased by Toronto Economic Development Corp. (TEDCO) and leased to Filmport.

Eventually, the estimated $700-million project is intended to be an industry hub. The 47-acre lot is expected to house film and television companies, union and guild offices, film schools, restaurants and shops.

“Five years ago where we stand today was essentially a wasteland,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said yesterday. “Five years from today, Filmport will be the epicentre of the creative economy of Toronto and will have put us very clearly in our rightful place on the world stage.”

Critics argue that with the pending shutdown of Toronto Film Studios’ property at 629 Eastern Ave. and the eviction of Cinespace from its Queens Quay location last year, the total amount of studio space in Toronto has actually shrunk.

But proponents of the mega-studio say it fills a long-standing hole in the industry.

“That’s what this entire studio is about is filling a gap and creating this kind of space where there are no compromises and everything is perfect for the large blockbuster films,” said TEDCO president Jeffrey Steiner. “That’s what Hollywood has asked Toronto to make sure we have.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Can a mega-studio lure Hollywood back north?

Toronto’s film industry champions rose from directors’ chairs perched in front of the city’s new mega-studio yesterday and opened their arms to Batman, the Terminator and Harry Potter.

But Filmport, designed to lure big-budget Hollywood features, officially opened without any of the blockbuster films it craves signed up to break in its seven new sound stages. In fact, the centre’s debut comes at a time when Hollywood North’s bright lights have dimmed to a flicker.

Filmport’s gem is Stage 4, a gaping cavern of highly insulated space supported by red flying buttresses on the outside. At 45,900 square feet, it is reportedly North America’s largest purpose-built sound stage – a place to make the multimillion-dollar movies that industry officials say pass over Toronto for lack of space.

“You open the door to one of those studios and all you see is the big empty space – what’s the big deal?” acclaimed Toronto director David Cronenberg said at the opening of Filmport’s first phase.
Camera crews gather at Wednesday’s official opening of the first phase of Filmport, Toronto’s new mega-studio. Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail
Enlarge Image

Camera crews gather at Wednesday’s official opening of the first phase of Filmport, Toronto’s new mega-studio. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
The Globe and Mail

“For me, it gets the creative juices going. … The mega-stage is my Notre Dame, my cathedral. I plan to worship there regularly.”

Still, with the threat of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild drying up work from south of the border, Toronto’s film industry – hit by 2003’s SARS outbreak, the soaring loonie and a flurry of tax credits in competing jurisdictions in North America – is struggling to regain its lustre.

Last year, production companies spent $791-million filming on location in Toronto – a 7.3-per-cent increase over 2006, but a long way from 2000’s peak of $1.3-billion, according to city hall’s film and television office. And the first half of this year looks even grimmer, Filmport officials said.

“We know we’re going to go through a tough time for a while,” said Filmport president Ken Ferguson. “Even when times are tough, the film industry does tend to get through hard times. We’re very confident we’ll get our share.”

Dwindling work from the U.S. is one of the largest concerns, said Paul Bronfman, president of the Comweb Group, a partner with majority-owner Rose Corp., in Filmport. Big-name blockbusters are getting bottlenecked at the source as directors wait out the SAG labour issues, he said.

“The temperature is bad and really bad,” Mr. Bronfman said. But if Toronto can wait it out, he added, the facility will help Canada regain its competitive edge.

In the past, Toronto’s allure was in the wallet, Mr. Ferguson said. The city appealed to made-for-TV movies and low-budget films that could shoot in warehouses or on the streets. But Filmport’s hope is that Toronto can face off with Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver to draw big-name films.

Certainly the city will see its share of star power next month when the Toronto International Film Festival attracts crowds of industry celebrities, many of whom might take note of the new facility. “The city’s just hopping in September,” said Rhonda Silverstone, Toronto Film and Television Office manager.

Karl Pruner, the Toronto president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, said he’s looking forward to using the Filmport stages for Canadian productions, though many productions are currently starved for cash.

When work starts flowing again from the U.S., big pictures in town will keep local performers and background workers busy, he said.

Filmport sits on a former petroleum storage site, prime waterfront land east of the Don River and south of Lake Shore Boulevard, purchased by Toronto Economic Development Corp. (TEDCO) and leased to Filmport.

Eventually, the estimated $700-million project is intended to be an industry hub. The 47-acre lot is expected to house film and television companies, union and guild offices, film schools, restaurants and shops.

“Five years ago where we stand today was essentially a wasteland,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said yesterday. “Five years from today, Filmport will be the epicentre of the creative economy of Toronto and will have put us very clearly in our rightful place on the world stage.”

Critics argue that with the pending shutdown of Toronto Film Studios’ property at 629 Eastern Ave. and the eviction of Cinespace from its Queens Quay location last year, the total amount of studio space in Toronto has actually shrunk.

But proponents of the mega-studio say it fills a long-standing hole in the industry.

“That’s what this entire studio is about is filling a gap and creating this kind of space where there are no compromises and everything is perfect for the large blockbuster films,” said TEDCO president Jeffrey Steiner. “That’s what Hollywood has asked Toronto to make sure we have.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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