Winnipeg getting its close-up in film biz

By: Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto

As published in The Metro

September 15, 2015

Andrew joined Minister Ron Lemieux and Phyllis Laing, President of Buffalo Gal Pictures, at the Sunnyside sound stage on Erin Street, to announce continued support for Manitoba's film and video industry.

Over the years, two busy West End routes — Erin Street and Wall Street — have undergone a tremendous amount of change.

This area was once home to heavy industries like Monarch Industries and Motor Coach, which employed many local residents. These businesses have expanded and moved to bigger facilities long ago.

You may know that Erin and Wall are now home to thriving services — like Sleepy Owl Bread, KUB Bakery, and Food For Thought — but you probably don’t know that part of Manitoba’s dynamic film and video industry is housed inside an old factory on Erin.

City’s comedy Sunnyside (season two premieres Sept. 27) is filmed at various locations across Winnipeg, but most indoor scenes are filmed at the main soundstage in the old warehouse. Earlier this summer, I had a chance to tour the soundstage with Minister of Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection Ron Lemieux when he went to announce our government’s continued support for the film industry.

Manitoba’s film industry is a big deal and is important to our growing economy. You can’t miss a production when it happens, like the recent shoots here in Minto and Wolseley.

The film and digital media industry generates over $145 million in direct economic activity a year — most of this money coming from outside Manitoba — and employs more than 2,000 people across the province. A strong film industry means everything to friends like Shelley Anthis, a Minto Street resident and casting director/ producer who works on many local projects including short films, features, music videos and corporate videos. She is just one of many Manitobans supporting themselves and their families in the industry, helping to develop ideas from paper to the big screen.

Other provinces have taken different approaches to the film industry. Saskatchewan has cut its tax credit, which means more projects now come to Manitoba. Nova Scotia also recently cut its tax credit, attracting the ire of the Trailer Park Boys and others.

Our government has stood firm in our support for the film industry because it’s a dynamic and creative sector. We can expect to see even more big projects next year because of our expertise and the low Canadian dollar.

If you would like to learn more about the film industry or about how you could pursue a career in the industry, you can call On Screen Manitoba at 204-927-5898 or call my constituency office at 204-783-9860.

You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram at @andrew.swan to keep up with some of the great things happening in Minto.