With the production of the “Letterkenny” television series already a boon for Greater Sudbury, much is expected from “Shoresy,” which is currently being filmed in the city.
So described Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo, who introduced a successful motion during Tuesday night’s finance and administration committee meeting to offer the production in-kind support.
“This is a very small ask compared to what is leveraged from that and the local spending and the economic contribution,” he told his colleagues while presenting his motion.
The motion seeks to halve Sudbury Community Arena rental rates for the ongoing filming of Shoresy, which is an in-kind contribution worth approximately $50,000. Although it still requires city council ratification, Tuesday’s unanimous support points to the likelihood it passes.
Based on a side character in the Sudbury-shot Letterkenny series whose face is never shown, Shoresy is currently being filmed at the downtown arena.
The production company behind the project, New Metric Media, has spent $40 million on productions in Greater Sudbury and Northern Ontario since 2016, Jakubo said, adding that the production of Shoresy alone will contribute $4.8 million into the regional economy.
This includes $2.3 million on labour, Jakubo said.
“Good, skilled jobs that can be well developed in the industry and used on other productions in the future to really build that film infrastructure in our community,” Jakubo said.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Jakubo told Sudbury.com that while Letterkenny has contributed greatly to the region over the years, Shoresy brings a whole new “intangible benefit” because it’s set in the city and region, which will result in free marketing throughout North America.
The production builds upon a forward momentum the city has been maintaining for the past several years during which he said the local film industry has grown by “leaps and bounds.”
Any new productions the city is seeing “really have the benefit of being able to tap into a well-established filming industry infrastructure in our city and in northern Ontario,” he said.
“You have worldwide organizations that have set up shop here so it’s really easy to get equipment and talent when you need it on time.”
Jakubo’s motion notes that the city’s support would be timely, in that New Metric Media’s grant request from the province’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation film fund program came in lower than requested.
“The company’s appeal for reconsideration has been declined and the reproduction is now facing a funding shortfall that threatens their ability to continue filming in Greater Sudbury this fall,” his motion reads.
This film fund is “of huge importance to the film industry in Northern Ontario,” Jakubo said, adding that this is why it’s important it is sustained.
This much is affirmed in his motion, which asks the municipality to express its support “by advocating to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Ontario government for the importance of the funding provided to the film and television industry in our community.”
Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini built upon Jakubo’s motion by requesting that city administration investigate how the film fund program has changed in recent years, which he said should offer context for whatever advocacy the municipality might take part in.
In conversation with Sudbury.com, Vagnini credited the provincial Liberals with helping build up the local film industry. His concern is that things are now moving in the other direction, which he said a report on how funding has actually changed should help clarify.
Sudbury.com reached out to provincial spokespeople to seek this clarification. In response, a spokesperson issued a written statement that offered some context.
They report that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation has provided more than $202 million to 379 productions in Northern Ontario since 2004.
Under the Ford government, the corporation has contributed more than $54 million in support for 109 film and television productions since June 2018.
“Greater Sudbury is one of the key film locations in Northern Ontario,” they wrote. “Overall, Greater Sudbury has seen approvals for 141 productions representing over $90 million in NOHFC support for productions such as ‘Letterkenny,’ ‘Indian Horse,’ ‘Through Black Spruce’ and ‘Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City.’”
Last month, an outdoor gym near the Main Beach in Bell Park was named Pitter Patter Park, after an oft-repeated phrase in Letterkenny. The park was a gift by New Metric Media and Bell Media’s Crave.
New Metric Media did not respond to Sudbury.com’s request for comment by the end of the day Wednesday.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.