With a nickname like “Silicon Valley North” and a gross domestic product of 98 billion from its over 76,000 businesses, it’s no wonder that Toronto is known as the very center of Canada’s commercial and industrial life. What it should be known as, however, is the apex of moviemaking: A great place to film and, with the Toronto International Film Festival (now underway), the perfect place for your movie to get screened.
Sure, you’re thinking, “What does Toronto have to offer that I would not be able to find in the States?” Well, with production companies spending more than $791 million filming in Toronto last year alone, a lot. Production companies working within Toronto have every dollar spent within the city discounted to $0.78; all site rental fees are waived on city-owned facilities and properties; labor and provincial tax credits are generously offered; not to mention, the mass of 25,000 professional crew members and 10,000 Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists members who will ensure a flawless production.
In addition, Toronto’s urban landscape and rich blend of people (half of its residents are immigrants) have made it a perfect movie stand-in for everything from New York City (American Psycho) to Washington D.C. (Breach), Boston (Good Will Hunting) to Pittsburgh (Land of the Dead).
Likewise, the universality of Toronto’s landscape has extended itself in the form of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with hundreds of movies from all around the world being screened and, often times, premiered over the course of ten days in September. One of the few end-of-the-year festivals, moviemakers look to the TIFF as one of their last chances to garner some award buzz for their films; as was the case when American Beauty (1999), Sideways (2004) and Crash (2004) all had their premieres at the festival. Over the years TIFF has become a great indication of the year’s best movies. Notes Cameron Bailey, the TIFF’s co-director, “Four of the five [Academy Award] best picture nominees last year had their North American premiere in Toronto.” It seems that this year’s festival, with entries from the Coen brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater and Darren Arronofsky, to name a few, will be no exception.
So, forget hockey and drinking Molson brews, Toronto is turning Canada into a moviemaking juggernaut.
Toronto has also hosted the productions of movies such as:
The Rocker (2008)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
History of Violence (2005)
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)