As proud Canadians and active real estate investors and city builders, we are keenly focused on Canada’s growth and economic prosperity, and exploring its reputation as a global leader. The film and television industry is no exception, having played a vital role in the strength and diversity of our economy and post-pandemic recovery.
Listen to the full panel below
As part of our ongoing thought leadership series focused on what individuals, businesses and the government are doing to maintain and enhance Canada’s appeal on the global stage, this third segment explored how Canada has established itself as a global film and television powerhouse that continues to attract a massive influx of prominent international investors keen on leveraging its world-class talent, infrastructure, innovative technologies, and more.
Toronto, being one of Canada’s leading film and television markets and a premiere North American production hub, remains at the forefront of the nation’s thriving industry, offering a compelling value proposition that has attracted record-breaking levels of productions, studio expansions and international investments – just last year Toronto witnessed a historic $2.5 billion in direct spending on film, television, and digital media productions, up 14% over 2019.
Live from the Luma Lounge at TIFF Bell Lightbox, the compelling panel was co-moderated by Greybrook Securities Inc. CEO, Sasha Cucuz, and Jason Mahogany, Head of Business Development, St. Joseph Media, and was joined by three industry professionals including Marguerite Pigott, Film Commissioner and Director of Entertainment Industries, City of Toronto; Megan Guy, Head of Client Services and Studio Operations, Cinespace Studios; and Beth Janson, Chief Operating Officer, Toronto International Film Festival.
The panel spoke to an engaged audience about what has been fueling Canada’s unprecedented growth, which has seen production volume surge by more than 70% over the past decade, and how the local film and television industry has evolved into a well-established ecosystem that is underpinning our economy and affirming our excellence as global leaders in this space.
The panelists shared that the recent production boom exhibited across major global production hubs has been driven in large part by a rise in streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Disney + and HBO Max which has shifted the paradigm of traditional media and production flows toward continually available original, fresh content. Marguerite highlighted that Toronto’s market reflects a dichotomy of foreign and domestic content, with homegrown productions dominating animation, children’s programming, comedies, and independent film.
Megan, who spearheads client services and studio operations for Toronto’s largest film studio, Cinespace Studios, asserted that as a North American creative epicentre, Toronto is uniquely positioned and distinct from its domestic counterparts given its stable tax credits and policies introduced by the Toronto Film Office, world-class production crews, abundance of locations that double as prominent American cities, as well as the diversity and skills of talent and strength of its storytelling. Together, these compelling factors are what continue to attract industry stakeholders and drive international demand for the global city.
Despite the region’s unparalleled strengths and countless contributions in key productions such as Locke & Key, Schitt’s Creek, The Handmaids Tale, and Umbrella Academy and post-productions such as Rise of the Titan, Master of the Universe, and Unchartered, Toronto’s foothold remains largely unknown to mass domestic and international audiences. The panelists believe that to overcome this, we need to promote ourselves more effectively to both Hollywood and throughout Canada to appeal to additional talent and cultivate local acceptance around location shooting. The Toronto Film Office, whose mission is to foster the growth and development of the local industry, and to act as the lead voice for the region within the screen-based sector, is currently helping to change the narrative and establish greater awareness of our expertise.
Together, the panelists agreed that as we look ahead to a promising future marked by growing demand and a substantial increase in studio space, industry stakeholders must continue to work collectively to ensure a sustainable path forward that strategically addresses challenges around workforce gaps and repatriates Canadian talent. Marguerite believes that in addition to expanding our world-class infrastructure, Toronto will lead the way in terms of virtual production technology that will revolutionize production flows.
The unprecedented growth witnessed in film and television over the past decade illustrates that both Canada and Toronto are compelling and competitive global production hubs that will continue to thrive in the years ahead.