TO pitches streaming to LA film & TV studios

Mayor John Tory and Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), chair of the city’s Economic Development Committee, will join a delegation of 23 Toronto companies and organizations in Los Angeles on April 19 to pitch industry leaders in streaming, television and film on the benefits of bringing productions to Toronto.TV & film production

“The film, television and digital industry is changing and we need to make sure we keep up. People are choosing streaming services and streaming services are creating content of their own,” said Tory. “Whether the final product will be on the big screen, the small screen or streamed online, we want that product to be a made-in-Toronto TV & film production. This mission will provide an opportunity for us to remind and inform decision makers in Los Angeles of the tremendous production talent we have in Toronto.”

During the mission, Tory and the delegation will meet with established studios such as Warner, HBO, NBC Universal, Disney and Fox, and will also meet with streaming services and original content producers such as Amazon Studios, Apple and Netflix.

“In a fiercely competitive global climate it is essential for Toronto to remain a top contender with Los Angeles-based studios,” said Jonathan Ahee, co-chair of the Toronto Film, Television and Digital Media Board. “They need to be reminded and reassured that Toronto is the best place to bring their screen projects to life. Toronto has some of the best talent and studio space in the world and there are always more opportunities to explore and bolster on every Los Angeles mission.”

The year 2017 was outstanding for Toronto-based productions. The film The Shape of Water, shot in and around Toronto, received the most nominations for the Oscars and Golden Globes while The Handmaid’s Tale series was prominently acknowledged at the Primetime Emmy’s. The Toronto screen-based industry was also involved in the film productions of Molly’s Game, Downsizing and The Breadwinner, which also received international award nominations and acclaim.

Since the last mission to Los Angeles in January 2017, Toronto City Council unanimously adopted Spotlight on Toronto: A Strategic Action Plan for the Film, Television and Digital Media Industry. Updates on this strategic action plan will provide Los Angeles-based industry representatives a clear understanding of the city’s priorities in the sector including infrastructure capacity and opportunities, improvements to customer service and advocating with other levels of government.

The city is addressing infrastructure issues that will unlock growth potential for Toronto’s film industry. Existing studios such as Cinespace Film Studios and Pinewood Toronto Studios have announced plans for significant expansions. In late 2017, the city intervened to purchase the Showline Studios space to preserve it for film use and the city expects to identify an oper-ator for that studio space very shortly. Additionally, the city has identified two sites – Basin Street and McCleary District – that it will tender with the specific intent of building more studio space and further anchoring the film and television industry in the Port Lands.

Toronto has one of the largest screen-based (film, television, commercials, animation) industries in North America, employing more than 30,000 people. For the third consecutive year, this important sector has contributed more than $1.5 billion to Toronto’s economy.

The Los Angeles business mission is a collaborative public and private sector initiative supported by Toronto’s community of screen-based service providers.

— Shane Gerard