Tag Archives: Filmport

City takes stake in Filmport

Toronto is getting into the movie business under mysterious terms that the city can’t yet reveal.

In a closely guarded deal worth undisclosed millions, city council approved a loan for the purchase of a minority stake in Filmport in order to partner with the producers of the legendary James Bond blockbusters to operate Toronto’s state-of-the-art studios.

But while Mayor David Miller touted the secrecy-shrouded arrangement as a boost for Toronto’s slowly reviving film industry, councillors privy to the terms said alarm bells were going off.

Few details were made public yesterday after council voted 31-7 in favour of the impending deal with Pinewood Studios for the operation of Toronto’s Filmport, which opened for business last year.

Mr. Miller said that once finalized, the terms and the amount of the loan being made via the Toronto Economic Development Corporation.

Until now, the city has been the landlord of Filmport through TEDCO.

“The arrangements that council passed today included the city giving a loan and receiving a minority ownership interest. That allows us a better ability to steer the future so that the risk we already have as the landlord is mitigated,” said Mr. Miller. “We don’t in the long-run want to run a film studio. That’s not what we’re good at. But we do want this film studio to succeed to create jobs in Toronto. We view this as a transition measure, but the transition may be several years.”

The money — “millions and millions” according to councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East) treading as close as he could to the line without breaching the confidentiality code — will come out of the city’s land acquisition reserve fund.

“Your political antennae go up in this place when you get a report worth a lot of money and it’s dropped at your desk in your office around 4 o’clock or thereabouts on a Friday afternoon. So that’s alarm bell Number 1,” said Mr. Minnan-Wong, who tried and failed to have the action delayed for further discussion. “Alarm bell Number 2 there’s lots of money involved. Alarm bell Number 3 is that they write it in such a way that it’s so complex that you can’t really figure out the financial implications. But you do know it’s a complicated deal and there are things hidden within the report that put the city at a financial risk.”

Councillor Michael Walker (St. Paul’s) will be reported to the integrity commissioner for taking the confidential report to an outside forensic auditor over the weekend seeking insight — a potential violation of council rules.

He urged council not to rush into the deal, to no avail.

Mr. Miller said that the new arrangements would actually work to mitigate Toronto’s risk by giving the city a stronger say in Filmport’s operations, including a seat on the board. When operating at full capacity, Filmport could create about 1,000 jobs and generate $50 million worth of economic spinoffs.

“Overall what will happen as a result of this is that Filmport will be in a much stronger financial position to succeed going forward,” he said. “The underlying reason behind this transaction is to ensure it’s future success, to ensure it’s sufficiently capitalized to succeed for the future.”

There were hints the deal is something of a bailout of the brand-new Filmport, which has yet to rent out its biggest soundstage.

Reports suggest Sam Reisman, the CEO of Rose Corp. and Filmport’s founder, is looking to offload his 20% ownership stake after the Ontario Municipal Board vetoed his Smart! Centres development for former film studios.

The Mayor said the ownership changes might also mean a management shakeup.

“I can’t comment on Pinewood. I can say that TEDCO does hope to have a new management partner. It very much respects the work that Ken Ferguson has on behalf of Toronto Film Studio [where he is currently president], but if there were an international corporation in this industry who was a partner it would be a very positive development for us,” Mr. Miller said. “In Los Angeles they’re used to negotiating with corporations of that kind. It would mean Toronto would be a much more viable destination for the success of films.”

Source: The National Post

Filmport opening ceremony postponed

The planned ceremonial opening for Toronto’s Filmport has been postponed due to a conflict with Mayor Miller’s appearance before a Senate Committee hearing on controversial Bill C-10.

The Mayor was to officiate at the Filmport event on June 5th, but has been asked by the mayors of other Canadian cities to lead a delegation against legislation that threatens to censor film production nation-wide.

Filmport has said that it applauds the Mayor’s actions in speaking out on behalf of the film industry. Mayor Miller has been a staunch supporter of the company and they will not cut the ribbon without him.

Tedco and Filmport are working with the Mayor’s office to arrange an alternative date for the ceremony.

Architect Will Alsop reveals next development phase of FILMPORT

Toronto – Architect Will Alsop, renowned creator of the elevated polka-dotted Ontario College of Art and Design, will design the first commercial office building for a new film and media centre in Toronto. Working with local architect Quadrangle, the sleek building, with its red exterior and curved form, will be FILMPORT’s first commercial building, an 11-storey office tower, film studio and event space.

"There’s a whole bunch of great things going on in the Port Lands and we’re pretty happy about it," said Jeff Steiner, the president and chief executive of the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO), which owns much of the land in the area.

When it is complete, Filmport, which is financed by multiple shareholders including Comweb Corporation and the Rose Corporation, will be the largest complex of film studios, sound stages and post-production facilities in North America outside of Los Angeles.

Together, the shareholders will invest over $30 million of equity capital in the venture.

Conventional construction-to-permanent debt financing will make up the balance of capital for the $60 million Phase 1 Complex. Lytton Financial Inc. acted as exclusive advisor to TFS with respect to the financing of FILMPORT.

Construction is already underway on the $700-million project. The first sound stages are expected to open next spring. FILMPORT will comprise 550,000 square feet of production offices and sound stages, including the mega-stage which will cover a massive 45,500 square feet, more than an acre of column-free space.

Comweb new FILMPORT Shareholder

TORONTO, – Toronto Film Studios Inc. announced that the development of FILMPORT, Toronto’s new film and media district in the Port Lands, has been organized under a new equity holder called Filmport Inc., which will own TFS and other FILMPORT entities. TFS also announced that Comweb Studio Holdings Inc. (Comweb), an entity wholly owned by Comweb Corporation led by industry veteran Paul Bronfman, has been added as one of FILMPORT’s shareholders, joining Rose Film Studios Inc., and a company owned by TFS president, Ken Ferguson.

Together, the shareholders will invest over $30 million of equity capital in the venture. Conventional construction-to-permanent debt financing will make up the balance of capital for the $60 million Phase 1 Complex. Lytton Financial Inc. acted as exclusive advisor to TFS with respect to the financing of FILMPORT.
"FILMPORT is now a well-capitalized and well-financed project led by a board of directors with expertise in both real estate development and film and television production," said Ken Ferguson, president of Filmport Inc. "We welcome Comweb as a shareholder and are excited about the bench strength we will gain with Paul Bronfman."

Rose Film Studios Inc. (Rose) is wholly owned by The Rose Corporation who, along with its subsidiary Toronto Film Studios, won the world-wide bid for the rights to build a mega-studio complex on property in the Port Lands owned by the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO). Rose has financed all of the FILMPORT development costs to date.

In addition to his new role as president of Filmport Inc., Ken Ferguson is also president of Toronto Film Studios Inc. Ferguson has operated TFS since 1998 and was instrumental in securing the rights to build FILMPORT on the TEDCO site. He is also a professional engineer with over 30 years of real estate development experience.
"Comweb is committed to the development in Toronto of the best full-service infrastructure in the world for film and television production," stated Comweb Chairman and CEO, Paul Bronfman. "This is a sound investment for us and for our industry. We clearly understand how FILMPORT will enhance Toronto’s ability to compete for top productions that benefit from, and employ, our solid base of highly experienced filmmaking professionals."

While Comweb and its subsidiaries will play an important role in the realization of FILMPORT, both Comweb and Filmport Inc. confirm that none of Comweb’s subsidiaries will have exclusive rights to provide equipment or services at FILMPORT.

Toronto Film Studios Begins Construction of FILMPORT Film/Media Complex

TORONTO, Sept. 6 /CNW/ – Toronto Film Studios Inc. (TFS) announced it has begun construction of FILMPORT, the new film and media business district located in the city’s Port Lands. Last fall, TFS signed a 99-year ground lease agreement with Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO) and has since been completing detailed plans and specifications for the Phase 1 studio complex.

The Phase 1 Complex will form the nucleus of a studio lot that will expand in time to over 550,000 square feet of sound stages and support facilities for the production of television and feature films.

Phase 1 will comprise seven sound stages including the Mega-Stage that will be the world’s largest, purpose-built sound stage. At over 45,000 sf, this state-of-the-art stage will have 60 ft. of clear height and a floor space 180 ft. wide by 250 ft. long (over an acre in area) – entirely without columns. It will be large enough to house a full-sized replica of the Parthenon.

"We are exceeding our Phase 1 obligations under the ground lease," said TFS president Ken Ferguson. "We will be building one additional sound stage and increasing the overall size of the first phase to 260,000 sf from the lease commitment of 232,500 sf. We have also increased the size of the Mega-Stage so that Toronto can lay claim to the largest purpose-built sound stage in the world. This stage will attract blockbuster feature films costing $100 million or more, like Spiderman III or Die Hard IV," Ferguson added.

TFS today also released new images of the Phase 1 Complex revealing a multi-toned glass office structure facing Commissioners Street and wrapping three of the sound stages. This building will accommodate production offices within its warm amber facade. The Mega-Stage will also face Commissioners Street with its distinctive, barrel-vaulted roofline and steel buttresses complemented by a water feature and landscaped piazza. The Mega-Stage will be a signature landmark in the Port Lands and will give FILMPORT instant worldwide recognition.

FILMPORT is the result of an open, world-wide proposal call by TEDCO, intended to spur rejuvenation of the Port Lands by developing a convergence district of film and media companies and stimulating knowledge-based jobs. With the Phase 1 Complex underway, TFS will begin to intensify planning of the office buildings and industrial space that will accommodate film producers, equipment suppliers and related companies that make their living in the media and entertainment sectors. TFS is already working with noted architect Will Alsop on the first series of buildings to be located outside the gated studio lot.

While Ferguson had hoped to start construction earlier this summer, TFS has met the deadline stipulated under the ground lease. "Development of a major film studio is a very complicated undertaking," he said. "The land lease adds yet another level of complexity to conventional project financing. With construction now underway, we expect completion in early 2008, although several of the sound stages and carpentry shops will be ready for use in late 2007," added Ferguson.

Over the course of development, FILMPORT will create 2,000 person-years of employment in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors. When completed, the complex is expected to annually induce direct and indirect economic impacts of over $600 million in Ontario, and support employment of 2,000 persons on the studio lot and many more in the surrounding commercial buildings. The studio complex will also generate $4.3 million of additional property taxes for the city.