Thanks largely to the country’s long-established incentive system and an exchange rate that favours incoming producers, production is booming in Canada. Film and TV production was up 20% to $5.5bn (c$7.1bn) in 2014-15, according to the Canadian Media Production Association. Foreign location and service production jumped 42% to $2bn (c$2.6bn). Most of the visiting productions come from the US but many are dual-nationality projects made via one of the country’s 50-plus co-production treaties.
There are two federal incentives — the CPTC credit, designed for Canadian or official co-production projects, and the PSTC, geared towards foreign projects (see below) — and most of the country’s 10 provinces and three territories have their own incentives that can be stacked with the federal breaks.
Though some of the provincial incentives have recently been trimmed, the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar has kept the boom going.
Over the past year, British Columbia has hosted features including Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, Why We’re Killing Gunther, Power Rangers, The Solutrean and Wonder. Ontario has seen shoots for Legacy, The Shape Of Water, Kodachrome and The War With Grandpa. Quebec, meanwhile, has been visited by The Story Of Your Life, Nine Lives and Shut In.
TV series shot in the Northwest Territories have included Ice Road Truckers and Arctic Air.
The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) for official co-productions is a 25% refundable credit on qualifying Canadian labour spend (net of provincial incentives) on projects that pass Canadian content tests. The Canadian Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC) for co-venture projects is a refundable credit of 16% of the qualifying Canadian labour spend (net of provincial incentives) with a minimum worldwide spend of $780,000 (c$1m)
Full details on financial incentives in Canada: Government of Canada
Infrastructure and crews
The industry is concentrated in three regional hubs, each of which has an extensive crew base and modern infrastructure: Ontario, with Pinewood Toronto Studios and Cinespace Film Studios; Quebec, with Mel’s Cite du Cinema studio and the core of the French-language film community; and British Columbia, with Vancouver Film Studios, Canadian Motion Picture Park Studios and North Shore Studios plus a strong VFX sector.
Canada is the second largest country in the world, with an area of 3.85 million sq miles. The biggest international airports are in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Flight times from Vancouver in the west to Toronto and Montreal in the east range from four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half hours.
Chris Coen, producer, Special Correspondents
“Netflix ended up financing the film, but our plan before that was to do a co-production with Canada. So we were set up production-wise — we had our locations, we had our studio — and we stayed there. Toronto doubled well for New York and we found Ecuador 20 miles outside the centre of Toronto. The tax incentives worked well, and considering [Canada] is cheaper it just made a lot of sense for our budget. We brought most of our heads of department, but otherwise it was primarily a Toronto crew, and they were great.”
Would he come back?
“Definitely. I’ve shot three movies there now and I’m heading back, I hope, next year
First person to call
Need to know
- DO team with a local producer who can help navigate provincial tax credit programmes. In some cases, this can increase the grant or credit.
- DO be aware that daylight hours vary widely this far north. Vancouver has daylight for 16 hours a day in summer but only eight a day in winter.
- DON’T forget a lot of big films are made in Canada and some popular locations have already been, in the words of one producer, “shot to death”.
- DON’T neglect to check the weather. Climate conditions differ around the country but it can get very cold in winter.