Lights, camera, more action in Ottawa? Summer could be busy for film crews

By Lucy Scholey

The film industry spotlight may be shining on Ottawa this summer, but some production companies are bracing for fewer film resources.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup and the possibility of a CBC TV series returning to the nation’s capital could make for more cameras rolling into the city – and a scramble for people to handle them.

“It’s going to be tremendously busy,” said Rob Menzies, vice president of Zed Filmworks. “We’re worried about crew right now.”

His Ottawa-based company is filming seven productions between now and the end of the year, with budgets ranging from $1 million to $6 million.

There are roughly two crews in Ottawa, a city that’s squeezed between Montreal and Toronto’s thriving film hubs. That means about a total 100 to 150 people qualified for production, art and electrical.

“It will be a fight for people, absolutely,” said Menzies, adding there will be some overlap between productions. However, he’s optimistic: “It’s ultimately a good problem to have. More work is always better than less work. But it does pose some challenges, for sure.”

CBC recently announced the revival of its TV series Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays. There’s still no word on whether the series will film in Ottawa again.

Bruce Harvey, head of Invest Ottawa’s Film Office, said the city can expect crews to be out shooting b-roll of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and there may be film spin-off from other activities, like the Toronto 2015 Pan Am & Parapan American Games. A Toronto-based animation house is also eyeing the capital as a location.

To help out the stretched-thin industry, Invest Ottawa is organizing a job fair for film production crews at Lansdowne Park on May 30. As someone who hustles to draw a bigger film industry to the city, Harvey welcomes the action.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be substantially bigger in film industry and production than we are now,” he said.

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