A major, multi-picture deal announced Wednesday means a local film studio will be even busier over the next few years in supporting TV and movie productions in the North.
Hideaway Pictures of Sudbury has inked a three-year agreement with the Los Angeles-based Motion Picture Corporation of America worth nearly $100 million, according to a release.
“I’m extremely happy to be moving forward in the industry and excited to be recognized by a big, international film company,” said David Anselmo, founder and CEO of Hideaway Pictures. “We’re building a strong reputation in Northern Ontario and I think this is an example of that.”
Anselmo was speaking from North Bay, where a shoot was under way for the third installment in a movie series for the Hallmark Channel called the Flower Shop Mysteries.
He described this franchise as the “first and biggest part” of the partnership between Hideaway Pictures and the U.S. company, which is best known for producing such Hollywood comedies as Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, but also supplies programming for Hallmark through its Brad Krevoy Television subsidiary.
Anselmo said the first movie in the Flower Shop series, Mum’s The Word, drew a record number of viewers for Hallmark and “very positive ratings” when it aired in January.
The second film, titled Snipped In The Bud and starring Brooke Shields and Beau Bridges, finished shooting recently in North Bay, he said, while Dearly Depotted, the third, is close to a wrap.
“This year we’re looking at five movies for the Flower Shop Mysteries,” said Anselmo. “We plan to come back in the fall for four and five, and I expect there will be a lot more beyond that.”
While that series has used North Bay as a backdrop, Hideaway Pictures and Anselmo’s affiliated Northern Ontario Film Studios have also facilitated plenty of Sudbury-based productions.
“Last year, Hideaway Pictures was involved in producing eight pictures in Sudbury,” he noted. “And Northern Ontario Film Studios serviced 15 out of 16 projects that shot in Sudbury last year.”
That means a big boost for the local economy. “Our numbers show that, just taking last year alone, there was $30 million of direct spend in the City of Greater Sudbury,” he said.
The overall impact is triple that when you apply a “conservative multiplier” for economic spinoffs, said Anselmo. “So we basically have a $100 million industry in Sudbury.”
Anselmo said 2015 was a record year across Ontario for movie and TV productions, with about $1.5 billion pumped into the province’s economy.
And while Northern Ontario may not get the lion’s share of that activity, it has certainly become an increasingly popular location for film and TV crews to book shoots.
“We’re happy to have our little piece of that and keep growing,” said Anselmo.
Actors and directors like the North because of the hospitality they encounter, he said, and the chance — in summer, particularly– to enjoy some of time on the banks of a beautiful lake.
And for big-name stars, “it’s also a chance to get away from the tabloids,” he suggested.
Northerners, in turn, “feel pride in having big stars come to the community,” he said, and in seeing familiar landmarks portrayed on screen.
Anselmo said he returned from a stint overseas to set up shop in Sudbury because he wanted to “create opportunities for young filmmakers” and others — be they actors, technicians, costumers or caterers — interested in being involved in productions.
Those opportunities seem to be growing.
“We’re creating a lot of jobs in an economy that isn’t doing that well,” said Anselmo.
Sudbury is attractive to U.S. filmmakers because of tax incentives, the low Canadian dollar and grants provided through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, he said, but also because the city can now offer the expertise and equipment to make a shoot go smoothly.
“We have professional film studios and can provide all the infrastructure needed to film in Northern Ontario,” said Anselmo. “This reputation has really made waves, and it’s exciting to grow the industry and move it forward.”READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE +