Montreal mayor rolls out royal Canadian welcome

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"I'm sorry, I just gave my last card to Joel Silver," Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said when we met recently at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Name-dropping on the mayor's part? Hardly. Silver is bringing in film after film to the French Canadian city — including "Whiteout," "The Factory" and "Orphan" — as part of a deal that has the Quebec government's private-equity arm invest in Silver's Dark Castle films. (The group also has invested in Lionsgate.)

Tremblay was on a whirlwind tour with his film team last week, the trade trip to Los Angeles designed to drum up business, meet partners and remind decision-makers that Montreal is ready to do whatever it takes to facilitate film production.

It's common for a city's film officials to come to town every few months, but a mayoral visit is rare. With more tax incentives popping up, however, Montreal feels the need to keep itself in the picture.

The industry, or "cluster" as Tremblay calls it, generates 35,000 jobs, supports 500 small and medium businesses and brings $1.3 billion into the city. Although 75% of that total is from homegrown productions, American shoots are very much needed, and the city has been on a winning streak: "Death Race" and "Punisher: War Zone" both shot there.

Tremblay is hands-on with the biz: For Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," he opened up City Hall for a 10-day shoot.

"I'll come back if I have to," Tremblay says. "You have to nurture relationships."

Just bring more business cards next time, OK?
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