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Amidst boom, Region releases filming guide for Durham

The filming of scenes for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT in Oshawa is a prime example of the surge of production activity in Durham Region.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The film industry is booming in Durham, and movie makers now have a tool that will direct them to the resources and services they require.

Film Durham, an arm of the region’s economic development department, released the 2018-19 Guide to Filming in Durham Region earlier this year.

A 2017 regional report notes that film production activity in Durham had surged 66 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

Eileen Kennedy, economic development officer, and film liaison, says in that time frame Durham saw $103 million in activity generated from 297 projects.

From all indications, that momentum has not wavered in the least.

“There is a huge increase in the number of projects and investment,” Kennedy asserts.

Popular filming spots in Oshawa include Parkwood Estate; Lakeview Park; the Ontario Regiment Museum; and McLaughlin Bandshell to name a few.

Filming for the second chapter of the film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT is set to take place in the city this summer on James and Eulalie streets. It’s the same location used in 2016 for the filming of the first instalment.

As more film producers come into the area, Kennedy believes they could be unaware of the tools available to them in Durham.

“This guide is definitely a response to that,” she notes.

She recalls being on film set involving horses and was told they were brought in from the Guelph area.

“I was thinking we’ve got horses here. It just seems kind of crazy,” she says. “Some of the services that they were finding are far, far away because they were uneducated.”

The guide, which is available online and in hard copy, contains an abundance of information.

Included within are maps, a listing of area businesses and film settings, and regional guidelines for shooting or getting a film permit.

While regional staff are always happy to lend a hand, Kennedy says it is always convenient when film producers can locate these resources themselves.

Feedback from the film industry has been tremendous so far.

“They love it. I took about a box of 40 to the Director’s Guild of Canada after they were printed. They took a whole box and handed them out to location managers.”

Just down the 401, Toronto remains the centre of film production in Canada, with six consecutive years of more than $1 billion in revenue. In 2016, film activity in Toronto cracked $2 billion for the first time ever.

However, as the city’s downtown core becomes more congested, space for film productions becomes limited.

“Parking is becoming very difficult to find. You are talking 12 to 15 large rigs that have to be parked at a production location,” Kennedy says. “You are also talking about basically a community of people that inserts itself into a space.”

 

By coming to Durham, Kennedy says, film producers will notice parking is generally isn’t an issue.

“Also, if they are shooting a variety of locations, for scheduling purposes if they can nail a couple of locations in a couple of days it saves them money, a lot of effort, and simplifies their shooting schedule,” she adds.

As with any type of activity that sees a spike, the region must consider local businesses and residents.

“I think ‘burn out’ is a good term. It’s a two-sided deal,” Kennedy says.

When filming in communities, especially smaller towns, hamlets, and villages, it is important that the lines of communication are maintained.

“If [producers] handle the shoot well, if they are respectful and polite, and if the residents and business owners are given a lot of notice, there are usually no problems,” Kennedy says. “They know they don’t want to make people unhappy. They will work with them.”

There are perks for the locals as well, as Kennedy explains businesses can benefit from significant economic spin-off when a film or television crew arrives in town.

The filming guide is online durham.ca/en/doing-business/filming.aspx or hard copies are available by contacting Kennedy at 905-668-7711 ext. 2617.