Hollywood Location Shooting Surges as Canadian Dollar Collapses

Vancouver Canada - H 2015
AP Images

Vancouver Canada - H 2015

The Toronto-Vancouver battle to woo Los Angeles producers has new ammo: currency savings.

A new front has opened in the battle between Toronto and Vancouver to bring Los Angeles producers to its soundstages and streets for location shooting: the plunging Canadian dollar.

"Everyone is tracking the dollar on a daily basis," Paul Bronfman, chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios and chairman and CEO of rental equipment supplier William F. White International, tells The Hollywood Reporter about studio bean counters.

Falling oil prices suddenly sending the Canadian dollar below 80 cents to the American greenback has the major studios factoring in added currency savings on top of tax credits and local on-set talent when weighing whether to shoot in Canada.

TV Land's Impastor, the NBC martial arts drama pilot Warrior, the Fox movie-to-TV pilot Minority Report and Lifetime's Damien series are the latest projects to book soundstages in Hollywood North.

"People are sitting in Los Angeles thinking of where they will shoot, and Vancouver and Toronto are suddenly options after they may have been looking at Atlanta and Louisiana," says Rob Sim, CEO of the SIM Group, which runs rental equipment supplier P.S. Production Services.

"The [Canadian] tax credits, combined with the exchange rate, will be pretty hard to beat," Sim adds, looking ahead to possible record Hollywood production levels here in 2015. In Toronto, David Ayer's Suicide Squad has booked into Pinewood Studios for preproduction starting this month, with cameras set to roll on the Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment feature from mid-April to September.

A movie version of the 1960s TV Western The Big Valley is to shoot in Vancouver from April to June, with Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy executive producing. And Vancouver is going gang-busters with U.S. TV series shoots, including the third season of Arrow, season four of Bates Motel and the 10th season of Supernatural.

Besides the inward investment from Hollywood, the Canadian production sector is also seeing a boom in local film and TV production. "The Hollywood business is great and it’s been really great for supporting the infrastructure. But the domestic industry has been quite the backbone of our industry for some time,” says Donna Zuchlinski, manager of industry development at the OMDC, which markets Ontario to Los Angeles producers as a production locale.