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Ontario looking to lure lenses

Film and Television Coalition expanding L.A. office

This article was updated on June 29, 2003.

TORONTO — A group of service production and union industryites is teaming up with the Ontario Media Development Corp. to market the beleaguered province as a lensing destination and to lobby the government to smooth the way.

“Production volumes have been stagnant for going on three years,” co-chair Brian Topp, executive director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists Toronto union, told Daily Variety. “The problem’s been cooking for a while.”

The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Toronto hasn’t helped, either.

The newly formed Ontario Film and Television Coalition plans to expand the L.A. office of the OMDC, because that’s where so much of the volume comes from, Topp said.

The group also will lobby the federal government to reconsider its regional bonus policy, under which producers are paid an extra 5% for not producing in Toronto. “With so much pressure under SARS,” he said, “we’re saying, if you can’t help us, can you please stop kicking us in the head.”

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It also plans to ask the provincial government to make its tax credits more competitive with provinces such as Manitoba and Nova Scotia, and to lobby Toronto’s mayoral candidates to make the city more film friendly.