From its pristine lakes, valleys and forests, to its grittier mine, railway and industrial locations, to its city centres brimming with both modern and historic buildings – Northern Ontario boasts an envious array of film locations appealing to even the most discerning of film producers.
Its expansive geographic range, however, has proven both a blessing and a curse in terms of logistics.
While Northern Ontario’s low population density makes possible the highly coveted panoramas directors dream of, it also means the region’s growing roster of skilled local crew members sometimes can’t keep up with demand – especially in the wake of a recent surge in film and television production activity in the area.
As the incoming president of Toronto Film School, Barnsley has helped forge a new partnership between the school, located in epicentre of Hollywood North, and North Bay’s Canadore College aimed at remedying those labour shortages.
“We welcome the opportunity to collaborate in the north with Canadore College on education pathways to address the industry demand for a significant increase in trained, talented and available crew members in Northern Ontario,” said Barnsley, whose roster of hit shows includes the CBC’s Schitt’s Creek, CTV’s Jann, and Amazon’s upcoming revival of The Kids in the Hall.
“The time to plan for a post-pandemic recovery of the Northern Ontario film industry is now.”
Described as both collaborative and mutually beneficial, the partnership between Canadore College and Toronto Film School will focus on developing a more robust local workforce through training, articulation agreements, and sharing learning opportunities.
Canadore President and CEO George Burton said he anticipates this new partnership with Toronto Film School will help continue the school’s proud history of producing graduates who are ‘job ready’ upon graduation.
“The College responds to the needs of industry in Northern Ontario and provides students who are ready, willing, and – most importantly – able to fill those gaps,” he said of Canadore, which offers a range of film industry-related programs, from Digital Cinematography and Acting for Stage and Screen, to Post-Production and Visual Effects.
“This memorandum of understanding with Toronto Film School carries on that tradition. It not only creates exciting educational opportunities for our Digital Cinematography students, but helps Canadore to better meet the needs of this growing industry in the north.”
“It was a pleasure to be able to bring together representatives from both post-secondary education institutions, and I’m thrilled they could come together to create this memorandum of understanding that will lead to even more growth and sustainability of the film industry here in Nipissing-Timiskaming and Northern Ontario,” Rota said.
“The potential that exists in moving forward with the partnership between Canadore College and the Toronto Film School is limitless. Nipissing-Timiskaming has so much to offer, including an ever-expanding film and television sector that creates jobs and opportunities for our residents.”
According to Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) – a non-profit organization serving the needs of those working in the entertainment industry across the region – Northern Ontario has hosted more than 200 film and television productions since 2001.
“Northern Ontario is home to almost 800,000 people in an area the size of the state of Texas,” the CION website reads, listing the sixth season of Crave’s Letterkenny, Carly Stone’s upcoming feature film North of Normal, and the TV movie Love Rescued among the projects currently filming in the region.
“We are a viable hub for film and television productions because of our wide variety of urban locations, natural environment and the proximity of wilderness to our urban centres. What might have taken two days to shoot can easily be combined into one when moving between diverse locations is as easy as it is here.”