Film and Television production has clearly been the creative discipline to receive the most attention from governments with respect to economic development over the past 20 years.  This isn’t hard to understand when the Ontario Media Development Corporation reports that $671 million in production has taken place in Ontario in 2008, and that 2008 is one of the worst in recent history falling from a peak of $888 million in 2006.

Locally this has resulted in the creation of the Film & Television Office (est. 2002), a division of the Economic Development Department, which handles permits, production attraction and retention, and numerous localized initiatives to encourage production in Hamilton.

Hamilton Film and Television Office:  Statistics at a Glance

Year # of productions Prep, shoot & wrap days Direct impact
2002

58

834

$5 million
2003

45

600

$8 million
2004

48

740

$10.5 million
2005

90

1330

$15.6 million
2006

94

1280

$15 million
2007

106

1318

$12 million
2008

77

763

$ 6.6 million
2009

96

887

$ 6.1 million

Since 2002 this has resulted in almost $80 million in production spending locally.  Local production fills our hotels and restaurants, provides employment to local crew, brings funds to paid locations throughout the city and exposes our city internationally on the screen.   Hamilton is most certainly seen as a player in the film and television production industry in Canada.

While numbers dipped in 2008, Hamilton more than held it’s own with respect to our provincial partners as we lived through fluctuating fuel prices, strike action involving numerous film and television unions, and the beginning of the financial upheaval in the US.  The fact that the film and television sector relies so much on outside influences is one of the dangers of this industry when considering municipal economic development.

To counteract this fluctuation Province of Ontario has expanded existing programs that stimulate production spending in Ontario.  Hamilton has already seen great benefit from the regional tax credits, and has picked up a number of production days from projects funded by the OMDC’s Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit.

The industry on a local level is made up of more than 70 small production companies.  The majority of these outfits are focused on corporate production, series television, independent film and music video production.  While they may not have the same individual financial impact as the major productions being handled by the Film & Television Office, these nimble companies are playing an enormous role in developing local talent, generating alternative content and slowly making their way despite the erratic nature of the production industry.

These companies are regularly accessing funding from both granting bodies and investors, are generating content for major networks and production companies elsewhere in the country, but their greatest strength is arguably that they are creating content that they own.  Content creation and ownership is how companies develop long-range growth as they can provide a revenue stream for a number of years once the core creation costs have been covered.

Locally Hamilton needs to create a network which connects content creators with investors (either networks, individuals, venture funds, etc) as these productions will generate local work, talent and sustained revenues on which companies can develop.

 

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