Sault film industry proving a success through pandemic
SAULT STE. MARIE -- While following guidance from the provincial government and public health officials, Sault Ste. Marie's film industry is doing just fine as the pandemic continues.
According to the union representing thousands in the film, radio and television industry, production companies in Ontario have actually been one of the greatest success stories through COVID-19.
"By the end of June, we were able to release guidelines for getting back to work safely," said Alistair Hepburn of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA). "Not everyone has been able to produce, but we do know that we are seeing more production in a concentrated amount of time because of these protocols, because of the health and safety we've got in place."
Hepburn said the spread of COVID-19 on sets has been limited, even in larger urban centres.
That's good news for the Sault's Rolling Pictures North, the northern affiliate of the post production company, Rolling Pictures, in Toronto.
"The key thing is that the message is not a mixed message," said Robert Peace, Rolling Pictures North Community Relations Director.
Peace said he wanted reassurance from Algoma Public Health that filming would be able to continue in the Sault, hoping the health unit would stick to what's allowed by the ministry of health.
"What we just didn't want to happen is that films scheduling to come in June, July, August, get nervous that maybe now there's two sets of rules," he said.
According to Peace, that meeting went well, easing his mind and several others.
It's especially important as momentum for the north's film industry continues to build.
"It's at that point where it can go either way to be honest," Peace said. "If you have the momentum in this kind of business, it can explode."
Peace said competing with other markets, like Sudbury, can be a challenge, but demand in Sault Ste. Marie is high as of right now.
He is also encouraging more companies to consider Sault Ste. Marie as a destination for its next production, or sourcing out work to the companies that exist already.