Amid Pandemic, 'Canada Is the Place Hollywood Is Looking to' for Productions

Amid Pandemic, “Canada Is the Place Hollywood Is Looking to” for Productions

3/2/2021 7:17:00 PM

Amid Pandemic, “Canada Is the Place Hollywood Is Looking to” for Productions

Producers, crews and VFX houses up north are running at full speed, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

ABC/Darko Sikman'Big Sky' shot in British Columbia. “B.C. is seen as a safe place to bet on,” says Zach Lipovsky, a rep forthe province with Canada’s Directors Guild.Producers, crews and VFX houses up north are running at full speed, surpassing pre-shutdown levels.

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As Hollywood travels a long, bumpy road to recovery from pandemic lockdowns, Canada is raising its production game. On local soundstages and location sets, agile Canadian crews and talent have managed to keep cameras rolling through a combination of resourcefulness, careful planning and sheer will.

In fact, the swift, industrywide embrace of strict safety protocols and social distancing has led to so much activity for the country's locations sector that productions have surpassed pre-pandemic levels."What's nice is we're busy," says Karen Thorne-Stone, president and CEO of Ontario Creates, which markets Ontario to Hollywood.

Her province saw a production shutdown in March and reopened in May with a pandemic playbook that includes quarantining, continuous COVID-19 testing and socially distanced sets. There have been no government-imposed shutdowns of sets.While shooting in L.A. began to return in June, it was mostly restricted to commercials and small indie productions, with a full return to TV and film shoots ramping up in late summer.

Momentum is accelerating as major U.S. studios and streamers tap Canada's talent, crews, soundstages and VFX houses in the race to scale up and shoot fresh content for subscribers stuck indoors and craving entertainment.Streamers like Netflix and CBS All Access had already created new production hubs in Vancouver and Toronto pre-pandemic, with younger digital platform rivals like Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV+ also increasingly heading north to shoot originals.

And with the North American industry operating at varying rates of recovery, Canada expects even greater production growth this year and next as Hollywood increases production post-COVID."We've always positioned ourselves as a leader, as a no-surprises, reliable jurisdiction," Thorne-Stone adds."And we just built on that reputation in the context of COVID and hope that carries us through to 2022."

Despite shifting government directives and lockdowns, provincial film and TV production sectors have been allowed to continue production nearly uninterrupted on COVID-secure stages with tight restrictions and scrutiny.It's not just the production epicenter of Ontario that has thrived. TV dramas like The CW's

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As long as they are not cutting trees and disturbing our flora and fauna!! They have been saying this for decades, yet LA is still the epicenter. Australia ain’t looking too bad either. Full disclosure, this has been happening years before pandemic.