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Canada – Ontario

Ontario Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Ontario? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in Ontario

For an introduction to shooting in Ontario see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

Ontario Film Locations

Ontario is located in east-central Canada. The Great Lakes lie to the south, and Hudson Bay lies to the north. The country’s most populous province, Ontario is known for its cities, hamlets, forests, waterfalls, canals, and thousands of lakes and islands. Outside of the major urban areas in and around Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario is mostly farmland and vast areas of wilderness.

There are roughly 60,000 farms in Ontario with the main agricultural film locations of interest being wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye, canola, and sunflower fields. The province is also known for its vineyards, maple syrup farms, and hog farms. Commercial fishing trawlers are available for filming. Ontario mines nickel, copper, uranium, zinc, gold, iron ore, platinum, and silver. Industrial locations include lumber mills, steel mills, and a range of factories producing textiles, machinery, electrical goods, farm implements, chemicals, rubber, aircraft, and furniture. Energy locations include nuclear power plants, oil and gas fired power plants, hydroelectric dams, and wind and solar farms.

Ontario has hosted a long list of productions including The Shape of Water (2017), The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-), It (2017), Spotlight (2015), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), The Incredible Hulk (2008), A History of Violence (2005), Mean Girls (2004), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Chicago (2002), American Psycho (2000), X-Men (2000), Final Destination (2000), Cruel Intentions (1999), and Good Will Hunting (1997), to name a few.

Film locations can be divided into the following regions:

Golden Horseshoe

Toronto is Canada’s largest city. Locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers include Toronto’s modern city skyline, downtown office towers, typical American suburbs, vibrant Chinatown, trendy neighborhoods, major sporting venues, gardens and city parks. The city often doubles for Chicago and New York City. Dundas Square is an easier and cost efficient alternative to New York’s Times Square. Toronto’s unique architecture includes CN Tower, Ontario College of Art & Design, Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Aga Khan Museum, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, and Casa Loma. City parks of note include High Park, Edwards Gardens, Evergreen Brick Works, Allan Gardens, Rouge National Urban Park, and Toronto Islands. Parts of the cavernous Toronto sewer system is available for filming. Lower Bay is an abandoned subway station often used by film and photography projects. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a Hindu temple.

Rouge National Urban Park.

Frozen lakes are ideal pond hockey locations.

The world famous Niagara Falls are just over an hour away.

Darlington Nuclear Generating Station and Pickering Nuclear Generating Station are located in this region.

Eastern Ontario

Ottawa is Canada’s capital. The city is best known for its gothic-style Parliament Buildings, wealth of museums and galleries, beautiful river parks, and leafy neighborhoods with Victorian homes. Locations of note include Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall, Royal Canadian Mint, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of History, Canadian War Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada Science and Technology Museum, and Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Rideau Canal freezes over in the winter and becomes a skating rink.

Kingston Penitentiary is a 19th century prison open to film projects.

Thousand Islands National Park.

Southwestern Ontario

Hamilton is an industrial city just under an hour away.

The Goderich salt mine is the world’s largest underground salt mine.

Point Pelee National Park.

Bruce Nuclear Generating Station

Central Ontario

Quaint towns, such as Port Hope have featured in films such as It (2017).

Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Bon Echo Provincial Park.

Killbear Provincial Park.

Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario is a largely uninhabited wilderness of lakes, swamps and forests.

Pukaskwa National Park.

Algonquin Provincial Park.

Killarney Provincial Park.

Polar Bear Provincial Park.

Ontario Film Location Permits

Ontario film location permits depend on the specific location as well as the scope and size of your shoot. Film permits are required for shooting on public locations in Toronto. Proof of insurance is also required. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Ontario has a typical four-season climate. Spring (April to May) brings flowers and warm weather. Summers (June to September) can get very hot and humid. Fall (October to November) brings colorful leaves and the migration of the monarch butterfly. Winters (December to March) are very cold and snowy, particularly the farther north you go.

Ontario is home to a long list of festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers including:

• Winterlude in January / February,
• Stratford Festival from April to October,
• Caribana Festival in July / August,
• Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Canada.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Ontario Tax Incentives For Filming

Tax Incentives. The Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC) is a refundable tax credit of 25% on qualified Ontario production expenditures for eligible film and television productions. The Ontario Computer Animation & Special Effects (OCASE) Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit of 20% of qualifying Ontario labor expenditures for digital animation and digital visual effects created in Ontario for film and television productions. See here for more information.

Ontario Film Crew & Talent

Crew. Toronto is Eastern Canada’s main production service center. It is the gateway to filming in Ontario, Manitoba, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Toronto has world renowned, experienced creative and technical crews that specialize in servicing a broad spectrum of productions from Hollywood feature films to commercial stills. 

Contact us if you are looking for a Toronto or Ottawa based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Ontario.

Talent. Ontario’s population is predominately Caucasian, Asian, and Afro-Canadian. Common First Nations ethnicities in the province include the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and the Cree. Toronto offers an impressive multicultural pool of experienced actors and models. It has a deeper selection of talent options than any other city in Canada, especially in terms of African looks and high end fashion models. Film characters synonymous with Ontario including hockey players, politicians, and blue collar workers.

Ontario Film Equipment

Equipment. Toronto offers both Panavision and Arri equipment as well as several boutique equipment companies. The majority of specialized equipment is available in Toronto including Russian Arms, camera cars, cranes and helicopter mounts.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Ontario Studios

Studios. Ontario has several state of the art studio facilities. Pinewood Toronto Studios has 10 fully-equipped sound stages and 9 acres of backlot.

Visas & Work Permits

Previously the rules were very strict with all visiting crew required to have work permits that were very time consuming and expensive to get. The good news is now commercial advertising shoots are exempt from the work permit process on the condition the project is foreign funded. See here for more information.

For crew members who will be entering to oversee the project, Western passport holders are able to enter Canada visa-free with an eTA for a period of up to six months. This excludes US nationals arriving directly from the US, who are exempt from the eTA requirement.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Canada has an extensive road network, particularly in the more populated south of the country. Several domestic airlines and charter services are available to access more remote areas. Major Canadian cities are serviced by most international carriers.

Accommodation. See below for recommended film friendly hotels in Toronto, Ottawa and other areas of Ontario.

Pantages Hotel Toronto

Final Notes

Safety. Ontario is a very safe and reliable place to film. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Toronto is a vibrant, modern city with many great restaurants and entertainment venues.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Ontario, please see below:

Hire Ontario Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Ontario, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Ontario, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.