Location Doubts

Will a long-planned studio complex lure Hollywood back to Toronto?

Talk about bad timing.

Toronto organizers first started laying down plans for a megastudio a decade ago, when the low Canadian dollar saw the city filled to bursting with Hollywood movie and TV shoots.

How times have changed. When the $60 million Filmport complex finally launched its first seven soundstages on Aug. 20, the American greenback had plunged in value and the major studios were conspicuous in their absence thanks to ongoing contract talks with SAG.

Nevertheless, Ken Ferguson, president of Filmport Studios, expects the complex to fill up once a new SAG deal has the major studios greenlighting production again.

"We've lost some market share to other jurisdictions, but Toronto goes back a long way," he says. "So when the market comes back, there's a good chance we will end up with projects."

Besides soundstages and production offices, the Filmport campus will eventually house equipment rental, costume- and film-service providers, as well as post and animation facilities.

Ferguson is also touting Filmport's green credentials: The facility includes motion sensor controls to shut off high-efficiency lighting and air conditioning when studio space is vacant, exterior lights on photo-cells, and bio-swales for stormwater treatment.

"People will notice the green measures, and they'll make an impression," he says.

While that may be true, local insiders wonder: Will going green put Filmport in the black?