John Tory off to Hollywood to boost Toronto film industry

Feb 23, 2016 | Arts, News

The movie set of Suicide Squad filming in Toronto in 2015.

The movie set of Suicide Squad filming in Toronto in 2015.

Mayor John Tory is heading to Hollywood in hopes of attracting more film and television producers to Toronto.

“Toronto’s film and television sector is a growing source of jobs and economic growth,” Tory said in a statement. The Mayor leaves for Los Angeles on Wednesday, just days before Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.

The mayor also promoted his trip with postings on Twitter.

But Tory is not the first mayor to head down to Tinseltown.

Former mayor Rob Ford travelled south during Oscar season in 2014 in hopes of bringing business north, although no itinerary was published for the trip.

Tory’s trip is a good idea, said Donna O’Brien-Sokic, Film and Television Production professor at Humber College.

“The timing is perfect with the Academy Awards. He will talk to and shake hands with many people,” says O’Brien-Sokic.

Over the three-day trip, Tory is scheduled to meet with 11 studios including Warner and Sony. He will also meet with the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and host a networking event with American and Canadian screen industry representatives.

“ I think it doesn’t hurt to have the mayor go down and reinforce the fact that we’re still here and we’re welcoming the industry,” said Wayne Goodchild, President of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 873 in Toronto.

According to O’Brien-Sokic, the low Canadian dollar has an impact on why this trip will be successful.

However, she said there’s more that attracts American filmmakers to the city such as talented crews, amazing writers and Toronto’s ability to double as cities in the U.S. and Europe.

“It’s not the be-all and end-all, when the dollars are par people still came,” said O’Brien Sokic

“The Toronto film industry generates over 1.3 billion a year,” she said.

According to Stephen Heatley Head of the Department of Film and Television at the University of British Columbia, the low Canadian dollar helps bring work into the country but will make it more difficult for indie filmmakers to find crew for their work.

“But if there are artists who want to make films, they will always find a way,” said Heatley.

According to Goodchild, the low dollar has yet to have an negative impact on Toronto’s film production.

“The industry is doing very well, for my organization we had our best year ever last year…we’re looking to have a very busy year this year as well,” said Goodchild.