A holiday wishlist from Toronto’s film and TV industry

Sponsored feature: presented by the Directors Guild of Canada


Toronto’s film and television community has a lot going for it – but there’s always room for improvement. With 12 days to go until Christmas, we’ve assembled a wish list of gifts our local filmmaking community would love to find under the tree. 

$900 million in new TV, courtesy of a new chair at the CRTC

Even among industry pros, the letters C-R-T-C usually make people’s eyes glaze over. But not this year. Back in May, the CRTC piqued rank-and-file industry interest when it handed down new licensing rulings that paved the way for broadcasters to scrap more than $900 million in scripted television over the next five years. Canadian creatives went to the mattresses, getting this decision sent back for reconsideration (a rare win, as only one in 20 appeals get this far). With the CRTC set to revisit this issue in the New Year, under a newly appointed Chair, the Commission’s final ruling will have a big impact on the industry and Toronto’s economy.

Give us another Orphan Black

If we could clone this show, we would. The landmark series garnered global buzz, showcasing Canadian talent around the world and launching the career of Emmy-winning actress Tatiana Maslany (pictured above). With the sci-fi epic having reached its finale, we can’t wait to see what director John Fawcett and writer Graeme Manson will do next. 

Save MuchFACT and Bravo!FACT

That same CRTC decision – threatening to slash $900 million in Canadian TV production – also axed two small-but-beloved grant funds known as MuchFACT and Bravo!FACT. These two programs helped start the careers of such obscure Canadian artists like Drake and Denis Villeneuve. As long as the CRTC is taking a fresh look at licensing decisions, more than a few successful FACT alums would like to see these two orgs rescued.

More Margaret Atwood novels

With the Bravo/Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale conquering the Emmys, Sarah Polley delivering the acclaimed Alias Grace for CBC/Netflix and an adaption of the Oryx And Crake series in development at HBO, clearly Canadian filmmakers need more Margaret Atwood novels to turn into TV series. It begs the question, how much source material can one writer write?

More Toronto studio space

Pinewood has been home to some marquee productions in the last year – Star Trek: Discovery and Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Molly’s Game, just to name a couple. But Toronto also missed out on some other big-budget productions due to lack of studio space. FilmOntario estimates that Toronto lost as much as $260 million last year (PDF) owing to projects turned away for want of square footage. A greenlight on the Portlands Planning Framework, unlocking much needed acreage, would be holiday cheer for this industry.

A GTA-based filmmaker in the studio business

The Shape Of Water‘s auteur and proud Leslieville resident, Guillermo del Toro, is once again talking openly about building a studio of his own in the area. This couldn’t come at a better time. With his own studio space, Del Toro would also have ample room for all the hardware Shape Of Water is sure to pick up this award season.

More top Canadian talent on big international shows shot here at home

From Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) to Jeremy Podeswa (Game Of Thrones), global hit series are recruiting Canadian directors from Los Angeles to Ireland. Canadian filmmakers will occasionally even get hired on international shows shot right here in Canada. But despite filmmakers like Kari Skogland on Handmaid’s, Jeff Woolnough on The Expanse or Tim Southam on Netflix’s reboot of Lost In Space, hiring local talent is still all too rare in the top spots. More of this, please!

Canadian sets that reflect Canadian society

Earlier this year, a report from Canadian Unions for Social Equality (CUES), published with backing from the Directors Guild of Canada, found just 14 per cent of directing jobs in Canada were going to women. In the post-Weinstein era, this only underscores the need for more gender equity on set. Let’s raise a glass this holiday season to the goal of greater racial diversity, gender equality and Indigenous representation in screen-based storytelling.

Clear rules for Netflix and its fellow travellers

This fall, the Government of Canada struck a five-year, $500 million deal with Netflix, committing the online streaming service to invest in “Canadian production.” The only problem? No one has defined what “Canadian production” means. Netflix is already spending more than $100 million-a-year shooting American shows in Toronto and Vancouver. Hulu, Amazon and Apple are all stepping up their investments in original series. It’s time for the Minister of Heritage to step up and set clear rules requiring internet-based broadcasters to invest in Canadian programming.

More downtown parking

Alright, this one would take a real Christmas miracle, but film crews and their fellow citizens are crunched for space, and downtown filming is becoming a serious challenge. With so many surface lots turning into condos, options for parking film units are diminishing. If you have parking spot(s) downtown, you have a hot commodity and great potential for a side hustle.

Anne (of Green Gables) crossover with hit comedy series Baroness Von Sketch

Okay, no one is clamouring for this, but who wouldn’t want to see Anne of Green Gables drink cosmos and play a high-stakes game of “F***, Marry, Kill” with Meredith, Carolyn, Jennifer and Aurora? To be directed, of course, by either of the 2017 DGC Award-winning directors Helen Shaver (Anne) or Alyesa Young (Baroness).


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