Syfy Bulks Up on Canadian Sci-Fi Imports


Canadian-made shows help carry the original series banner for the American channel this winter, especially on Monday nights with "Continuum," "Being Human" and "Lost Girl."

TORONTO – Decades of American sci-fi series and mini-series shot in Canada have paid off for local genre TV producers.

U.S. channel Syfy has bulked up on Canadian sci-fi series, including a Monday-night line-up this winter that has homegrown shows Continuum and Lost Girl book-ending the original Syfy series Being Human from Montreal-based Muse Entertainment.

“Whether it’s shows that are made in Canada for the international marketplace, or some very original shows produced in Canada, the Canadian marketplace is a terrific place for good programming in the sci/fi, fantasy and supernatural genre,” Thomas Vitale, Syfy's executive vp of programming and original movies, explained.

Continuing a tradition set by popular series like the David Duchovny-starrer The X-Files, The Outer Limits and Stargate that were shot in Vancouver, Syfy in recent years has seen a host of series like Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, Caprica, Sanctuary, Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: Universe also shot in the West Coast Canadian city.

More recently, Syfy productions like Warehouse 13 and Alphas have been shot in Toronto, while Haven comes from Nova Scotia.

It turns out the rise of the PVR and VOD generation has the U.S. channel ramping up original series production to woo viewers, and that’s where Canadian imports like Haven and the upcoming Primeval: New World series come in.

“There’s original content five nights a week, and it’s a necessity in today’s TV landscape,” Vitale insisted.

That includes Monday nights, where the time-traveling police drama Continuum, from Canadian indie Reunion Pictures, and the current third season of Lost Girl from Prodigy Pictures air on Syfy. And the U.S. channel has at 9 p.m. Monday nights Being Human, the North American adaptation of the BBC sci-fi drama that stars Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath and Sam Huntington.

There’s also a vibrant cross-border trade in Syfy series, with Canada’s Showcase channel acquiring Defiance, which is shot in Toronto, and the Being Human remake airing here on Space.

Vitale cites favorable Canadian tax credits and other local subsidies to underline why sci-fi series are shot in Canada before they travel well overseas. “A lot has to do with the Canadian financing structure and how they are made, which gives great value for other markets,” he said.