The Toronto Urban Film Festival returns for its seventh year of subterranean shorts programming, reaching an audience of 1 million commuters

The Toronto Urban Film Festival returns for its seventh year of subterranean shorts programming, reaching an audience of 1 million commuters.

288 films are programmed for this year’s Toronto Film Festival, and commuters heading to the cinema will be treated with 85 more by the end of the fest. All they have to do is look up.

The Toronto Urban Film Festival returns for its seventh year of subterranean shorts programming, with a diverse slate that all come in under one minute. Each day’s programming will play every 10 minutes across 300 screens, planted in the city’s subway platforms.

Factoring in the number of people who utilize Toronto mass transit, the film festival will reach over 1 million people during its run. Arriving from 20 countries across the globe and ranging in medium — from narrative to documentary to animation — the festival’s selections add a dash of the avant-garde over TIFF’s 10 day run.

Although they’re micro-sized, TUFF recognizes individual artists each year. Canadian cult filmmaker Bruce McDonald (Pontypool) joins the fest to select the top three films of the year, as well as the winner of the City of Toronto’s Naish McHugh Award for Emerging Filmmakers. The awards will be presented at a special awards ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 15.

For those not in Toronto, this year’s selection is available for viewing on the TUFF website, where audiences can also vote to name the 2013 Viewer’s Choice winner.

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IATSE Local 63 Signs Agreement with Audio Works

IATSE Local 63 recently signed its first collective agreement with Winnipeg-based Audio Works. The agreement covers all of its employees and contract technicians, except those excluded by operation of Labour Relations Act of Manitoba.

Audio Works, which opened in 1992, is Manitoba’s premiere full-service sound, lighting, stage and multimedia production company and provides equipment and services across Canada.

The new agreement includes minimum four-hour calls, coffee breaks, a newly created truck driving position and a newly created crew chief position. It was ratified unanimously by the employees of Audio Works.

The IATSE represents members in the stagecraft, motion picture and television production and trade show industries throughout the United States and Canada.

Action needed before film industry fades to black

By Margaret Evans – Chilliwack Progress
Published: January 29, 2013 1:00 PM

Premier Christy Clark needs to pay a lot more attention to the dilemma facing the rapidly shrinking film industry in Vancouver. This is a billion dollar industry we can’t afford to lose.

Ten years ago, this was a thriving industry. In 2003, 169 productions were filmed in B.C. for a record $1.4 billion. Chilliwack capitalized as a location source in that year, generating over $478,000 for the local economy.

Back then, of course, the economy was different. We had a low Canadian dollar. And we were in front of the pack boasting lucrative provincial/federal tax credits, skilled professional crews, a fully equipped production infrastructure, a town in the same time zone, and scenery to die for, all of which kept Hollywood producers trekking north. But in 2010, production spending had dropped to $1.02 billion.

Now the dollar is at par. Other provinces are bettering the province’s 33 per cent labour-only refundable tax credits. Ontario offers a 25 per cent tax incentive for all production expenses which can be combined with the federal film tax credit of 16 per cent on labour. With more attractive incentives, producers are going to Toronto and skilled labour in Vancouver is looking at relocating.

Only seven productions are listed on the B.C. Film Commission website, one of which has already wrapped and two wrap in February. Right now, there is reportedly a 90 per cent unemployment rate in the film and television production industry.

Last week NDP leader Adrian Dix visited movie moguls in L.A. on a fact-finding trip to see how to lure them back to B.C. No doubt the message was get more competitive.

We’re the victim of our own success. Other cities have torn a page from Vancouver’s film script and re-written it to their own advantage with alluring tax benefits and a staging crew of their own.

The province’s beauty has always been a huge location attraction. But the bottom line is all in the numbers. Right now, shooting a $100 million film in Toronto compared to Vancouver will net some $5 million in savings.

The Clark government repeatedly focuses on the ‘cost’ (i.e. the tax incentive) of the industry. This is actually misleading since the incentives are not a subsidy paid for by taxpayers. They are rebates on money spent on labour. If the production dollars don’t get spent in the first place then no returns are paid back. At the end of production, the company totals the taxes deducted from employees and is rebated 33 per cent of the total.

There is no argument that the industry’s success here has been driven by competitive production costs. The industry generates jobs with specialized knowledge and talent, something B.C. crews have excelled in. In addition, the spin-off benefits to satellite industries are staggering. They include transportation, equipment and specialty rentals, restaurants, construction supplies, electrical supplies, catering and many more.

The rules of the game have changed. It’s far more competitive to win those production deals now that all government leaders across the country want a cut of the entertainment action. We’re getting a hard lesson in how portable the movie industry is. They can go anywhere.

So why is the government lagging behind, putting at risk a $1 billion industry ($1.18 billion in 2011)? In a time of budget restraints and cut-backs, the province can’t afford that kind of loss. Crunching the numbers to shrink the differential by whatever financial means to draw back production companies, keep 25,000 people employed, and an entire satellite industry humming seems like a no brainer to me.

Total tax revenues may match the tax credits underscoring their value as an incentive investment and never a ‘cost’.

Hollywood North Gets Film and TV Production Outpost in Northern Ontario

Via Hollywood Reporter 10/15/12
Sudbury Studio Interior - H 2012

A disused hockey arena in Sudbury has been turned into a single span, 20,000 square foot soundstage for local and foreign producers.

TORONTO – Hollywood North has gone north.

Canada’s long-established reputation as a backlot for the Hollywood studios in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal has been bolstered by the launch of Northern Ontario Film Studios complex in Sudbury, Ontario.

A local consortium, led by David Anselmo of Hideaway Pictures, converted a disused hockey arena into a 20,000 square foot film studio.

The result is local and foreign producers shooting on the new soundstage to capitalize on generous rebates from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, which provides financial support for projects that film locally.

The latest productions to tap the regional tax incentive includes the Canadian indie Stage Fright, which stars Minnie Driver and Meat Loaf, and the Andy Garcia-starrer The Truth.

Going north to shoot in and around Sudbury is a departure for foreign producers that generally fill soundstages along the Canadian-U.S. border.

That’s left Canada’s northern hinterland as a transient filming location for foreign producers that go in seach of regional incentives.

But a hockey barn turned into a soundstage and supplementing Ontario’s 25 percent all-spend tax credit explains the lure of Northern Ontario Film Studios.

Depending on the size of the film or TV shoot, producers can secure up to $1 million per-project, half coming as a grant and the remaining part as a repayable loan.

“It’s based on the incentives, paired with the Ontario tax credit,” Anselmo, CEO of Hideaway Pictures, explained of the new public coin available through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund for film and TV producers.

Additionally, there’s protection from the cold northern Canadian winter in the Northern Ontario Film Studios complex, which includes 20,000 square feet of clear span space, dressing rooms, a green room, storage space and parking.

Anselmo and his investors, besides building up a separate movie equipment rental business, are also looking for land on which to build a permanent studio as they lease the renovated hockey arena for a three-year trial period.