If you like to watch end credits in movies, you may already have noticed an interesting recurring pattern: a sizable amount of Hollywood cinema is made in Canada. My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Juno, The Shape of Water, Interstellar, The Last of Us are just a few global hits out of a long list that were shot in Canada. Over the years, this earned Canada the title of ‘Hollywood North’.
However in 2023, the film fraternity believes they have outgrown this moniker. A survey by Toronto Film School reveals that a mere 17% of participants still liked the label “Hollywood North” to describe their industry.
The Canadian film industry has been evolving with robust optimism while forging it’s own identity. Kim’s Convenience, Schitts Creek, Working Moms, BlackBerry, Riceboy Sleeps, Twice Colonized, and North of Normal, are some blockbuster TV shows and Movies that celebrate and validate the vast potential of Canada’s diverse stories.
Canadian Film Industry
In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, Canada’s film industry generated a record-breaking $11.3 billion in operational revenue, supporting over 244,000 jobs. Remarkably, the pandemic resulted in accelerating the industry as Canada filmed an unprecedented number of projects throughout 2021, due to a combination of backlog of delayed projects, introduction of new projects and an increased demand for streaming.
In 2022, Canada’s Movie, TV & Video Production industry flourished further, achieving a market size of US $13.4 billion in revenue. Looking back over the past five years, from 2017 to 2022, the industry has seen a consistent expansion, growing at an average rate of 6.1% annually.
The heart of Canada’s film industry is often concentrated in three provinces: Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. These regions are equipped with top-notch facilities, a wealth of talent, dedicated crews, comprehensive services, and diverse filming locations.
Toronto houses the globally renowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and ranks among North America’s leading five film powerhouses. In 1917, the Government of Ontario set up the Ontario Motion Picture Bureau, making it the world’s first government-initiated film organization. It was founded a year before the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau.
Vancouver is a prime Canadian film epicenter. Hollywood productions provide jobs for over 65,000 individuals in the city. Notably, over 80% of production is centered around Vancouver’s urban landscape.
Montreal is Quebec’s cinematic hub, and it’s no surprise that acclaimed directors, such as “Dune’s” Denis Villeneuve, are from this city. Montreal is teeming with film opportunities, especially with major production giants like Telefilm Canada and Entertainment One operating there. Their portfolios include blockbuster hits and beloved series, from The Walking Dead and Peaky Blinders to cinematic gems like Twilight and Brooklyn.
Famous Movies Shot in Canada
- Deadpool (Vancouver)
- The Incredible Hulk (Toronto)
- Scary Movie (Vancouver)
- Chicago (Toronto)
- Hairspray (Toronto and Hamilton)
- The Suicide Squad (Port Lands and the streets of Toronto)
- The Twilight Saga (several Canadian locations)
- Capote (Manitoba)
- American Psycho (Toronto)
- Catch Me if You Can (Quebec and Montreal)
- Mean Girls (Toronto)
- Brokeback Mountain (Southern Alberta)
- The Shape of Water (Toronto and Hamilton)
- Rambo – First Blood (British Columbia)
- The Revenant (Alberta)
What Factors Contribute to Canada’s Appeal as a Film Destination?
Canada boasts of a multitude of reasons why productions small and large use Canada as their base for filming:
Canada’s rich tapestry of landscapes offers filmmakers an unparalleled range of settings. Urban centers like Toronto provide bustling metropolitan atmospheres, while the picturesque terrains of British Columbia capture natural beauty. The expansive plains of Alberta and Manitoba are perfect for epic tales set in vast open spaces. Canada’s varied environments accommodate a plethora of storylines.
Canada’s four distinct seasons provide varied backdrops for filmmakers, a stark contrast to other countries that may have year-round heat or cold.
Filming in Canada is cost-effective due to the favorable U.S. Dollar exchange rate and lucrative tax incentives. Federal and Provincial governments make varied incentives, grants, and funding available, for example:
- Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit (OFTTC): The Ontario film and television tax credit is a refundable tax credit based on the qualifying labour expenditures incurred by a qualifying production company for eligible Ontario productions. This tax credit is available to first-time, small and large productions. For example, a first-time production can get a 40% refund on the first $240,000 spent on worker salaries and 35% on any amount beyond that. If the film is made in regional Ontario, the production can get an extra 10% refund on worker salaries.
- Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC): The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) gives a 25% tax refund on the money spent on qualified worker salaries for eligible productions.
Canada’s appeal is poised to grow, with numerous projects lined up and government funding available.
Canada’s rich talent pool, comprising actors, directors, writers, and crew members, is another draw. The country is brimming with prestigious film schools like the University of British Columbia, Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Image Arts, York University’s School of the Arts, Humber College, George Brown College, Fanshawe College, and more.
The nation’s film industry churns out seasoned professionals and budding new talent, including Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Rachel McAdams, Nina Dobrev, Cobie Smulders, Sandra Oh, William Shatner, Jim Carrey and more. James Cameron, David Cronenberg, Denis Villeneuve, are some celebrated directors from Canada.
The Future of the Film Industry
Since the development of photography, advancements like sound, color, and CGI have been the drivers of evolution in the filmmaking business. Technology will continue to impact the industry and bring new opportunities with it for entrepreneurs. Some of the key trends in filmmaking are:
- Digital Dominance: With the rise of over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, the surge in consumption and popularity has expanded the horizon for filmmakers to create content, in different formats, genres, and styles for audiences across the world.
- Advancements in filmmaking: Technology is enhancing everything from shooting and editing to distribution. Algorithmic video editing, 3D printing, 3D previsualization, real-time rendering, volume technology, machine vision lenses, and extreme micro-cameras are ready to propel film into a thrilling, futuristic era.
- Diversity and Inclusion: The film industry is facing growing demands and recognition for more diverse and inclusive content, both from audiences and creators. Thankfully, entities like the National Film Board of Canada are initiating steps towards equity, diversity, and inclusion, setting a standard that other industry participants should adopt.
If you’re eager to harness your entrepreneurial talents in Canada’s thriving filmmaking sector, here are some key sectors:
- Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Production: As the demand for immersive experiences grows, there’s significant potential for startups focusing on VR and AR content creation.
- AI Powered Post-Production Software: AI powered solutions that target editing, sound design, color grading, and visual effects, can help alleviate a multitude of post-production pain points.
- 3D Printing for Props and Sets: Services or machines specifically tailored to film productions can be a great niche allowing filmmakers to print intricate props or set pieces on demand.
- Predictive Analytics for Filmmakers: Help filmmakers make data-driven decisions by using analytics and AI to predict audience reactions to certain storylines, characters, or scenes.
- Smart Set Designs with IoT: Integrate Internet of Things devices into sets to enable real-time adjustments, special effects triggering, and environment monitoring.
6. Film Tech Hardware: Develop extreme micro-cameras or innovative machine vision lenses that cater to niche filming requirements.
Want to Start a Business in Canada?
TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here