Film and TV production lagging in Canada

It's all quiet on the northern front as SAG talks continue

TORONTO -- Canadian studio operators are eyeing the horizon for U.S. film and TV shoots like sailors lost at sea as the SAG contract talks in Los Angeles put a damper on production here.

"The studios that we're talking to about potential for work have all made it quite clear that they are not going to be greenlighting pictures until the SAG (deal) is worked out," Toronto Film Studios president Ken Ferguson said Friday.

TFS has the TV pilot "Warehouse 13" shooting on one of its soundstages, but otherwise it's Canadian series that dominate the local scene.

"I've never seen Toronto this slow at the end of June," said Paul Bronfman, CEO of production equipment supplier Comweb Group.

The one Canadian bright spot production-wise is Vancouver, where U.S. TV series provide welcome work for worried production crews.

"We feel fortunate to have the business hat we have, but we're concerned that people might be out of work again, which isn't good for the industry at any time," said Peter Leitch, president of Mammoth and North Shore studios in Vancouver.

The Mammoth and North Shore studios have "Night at the Museum 2" and U.S. series including ABC Family's "Kyle XY," Sci Fi Channel's "Stargate Atlantis" and USA Network's "Psych" in production after recent renewals.

Studio operators report some exploratory phone calls from U.S. producers anticipating a possible return to production here in the fall, but the consensus is that producers, by their current inactivity, are sending a message to SAG about their resolve.