Get Started

Other | Articles

Can Ontario Support a Surging Film Industry?

By 2022, the industry is projected to grow 5.4% yearly and support over 38,000 jobs.

Ontario is quickly becoming a key hub for the filmmaking world.
Ontario is quickly becoming a key hub for the filmmaking world.

Ontario is quickly becoming a key hub for the filmmaking world. Every year, countless new television, movie and advertising productions take up residence in the province, bolstered by the numerous tax incentives and a favourable currency exchange. Such growth has been steady for a number of years, but the increasing popularity of streaming services has led to an even bigger need for content. Major players like Netflix, CBS, Hulu and Amazon are all leasing space in soundstages around Toronto. After a cut to Ontario’s tax credits in 2015, the government has increased its investment and support from both the providence and local level is strong.

By 2022, the industry is projected to grow 5.4% yearly and support over 38,000 jobs. While this is no doubt welcome news to many, it also highlights a growing concern amongst entertainment leaders who have long recognized a rising problem: the shrinking talent pool in the region. This issue is not unique to Ontario. Several areas have experienced rapid growth in film productions and the workforce struggled to meet demand.

A few years ago, filmmakers in BC complained about the difficulty in filling production roles and looked to lure professionals from other industries with similar skillsets. While producers can use outside sources for tasks, several tax credits are dependent on utilizing local workers. The OCASE tax credit benefits computer animation and digital effects productions but is dependent on using a percentage of Ontario-based workers. Because these jobs are highly technical and cutting edge, finding talent in general can be a challenge. New grads are eagerly scooped up by studios but the nature of such roles – contract-based and specific to a film or tv show – means that professionals typically jump from project to project. The small supply drives up costs and skilled artists can become a huge cost, not to mention a difficult hire.

In some ways, Ontario is well-equipped to handle an influx of productions. Aside from a growing population, Toronto hosts highly celebrated film programs. In fact, a number of Canadian institutions are listed among the most-respected training centres, alongside a number of American, European and Asian schools.

Still, filmmakers struggle to find qualified crews, especially outside of the GTA. Northern Ontario regions like Sudbury and North Bay hosted 10 productions at the beginning of 2019 and while the region does boast an array of former Torontonians, demand can be difficult to meet.

As the number of Ontario-based projects continues to boom, production teams can only hope that the factors that drove them to the province – incentives and a favourable currency – will also attract their needed crews.