The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation is continuing to lure filmmakers here with its financial incentives.
On Oct. 19, Rick Bartolucci announced $1 million for Bill Marks' film The Returned and $351,000 for David Anselmo and Justin Kelly's production Deadweight.
The Sudbury MPP and chair of the NOHFC was flanked by the board of the NOHFC board when he made the announcement at Northern Ontario Film Studios.
“We are very proud of the return we see on films shot in Northern Ontario,” he said. “The return to the community is significant.”
Since the NOHFC began funding film projects, Bartolucci said $48 million has been presented to 72 film and TV projects north of Parry Sound. This year has been particularly busy.
“We've had a banner year for production in Northern Ontario,” Bartolucci said. On top of the projects taking part in the city, there has been a considerable amount of hype among northerners.
“I can't help but marvel at the excitement of residents — my fellow residents,” he said.
While the NOHFC has already boasted a considerable investment to the industry, Bartolucci said its only the beginning.
“These are the foundation pieces in Northern Ontario to develop the industry,” he said. Along with productions coming here, there are now trained professionals who reside in the North, ready and willing to work on these projects, as well as developing infrastructure.
“(Music and Film in Motion board chair) Mark Palumbo believed if we put this group together, something positive could happen,” Bartolucci said. “These people have an incredible desire to see the industry flourish.”
Palumbo said the NOHFC developed programming to fund film projects sometime around 2004, following a heavy push from MFM.
“We pushed it as an economic development tool,” Palumbo said. Before NOHFC started its support of the industry, Ontario producers were being pulled to Atlantic provinces and Manitoba, where incentives already existed.
“Our plan was to appeal to Ontario producers,” he said. “In order to compete, we have to have some incentive for them to come here.”
Those working in the region agree the financial support is working.
“We definitely wouldn't be here without (NOHFC) and their support,” Kelly, the producer of Deadweight, said.
Bill Marks, who has worked on five feature projects in the last year with plans for four more in the next 18 months, said the community co-operation and support has been “immense.”
“The NOHFC continues to be an important partner for film productions interested in working in the North,” he stated. “We commend the board members of the NOHFC for their important support. As an Ontario filmmaker for over 20 years, and northern filmmaker for the last four years, I am proud to see the industry establishing roots in our northern cities.”