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Study reveals strategies for small communities to attract film production, boosting local economy

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After eight months of research, the South Georgian Bay Media Association is poised to unveil a study titled 'Attracting Film Productions to Small Town Ontario,' aiming to equip rural communities with the knowledge to become coveted locations for filmmakers and to draw film production beyond the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

"We see weekend swells of hundreds of thousands of people for tourism industry-based things. And in the film industry, there are a lot of similarities. The same reason why people are coming here for tourism is a lot of the same reasons why films and television shows are seeking those locations as well," says Tom Strnad, South Georgian Bay Media Association lead strategist.

Strnad says smaller towns provide historic charm and natural beauty you may not find in the GTA.

The study includes interviews with municipal representatives and film industry professionals.

"Really to look at stakeholders, create round table surveys and really start to assess what is needed to attract more film production," says Strnad.

Local filmmakers and co-owners of Collingwood Film Co. Liv Collins and Jesse Thomas Cook took part in the study.

"It really helps even when we did the panel, realizing different locations and things we didn't know about and to kind of have the archives of what is available," says Collins.

Cook has made 14 films, all shot in South Georgian Bay.

"These towns sort of retain their old gothic veneer. In our case, we make science fiction and horror films," says Cook, adding that there is growth potential among the already steady number of smaller productions.

"Certainly, we know of a lot of short filmmakers, and some features, TV shows, and Hallmark movies have been known to come up here in the winter setting," says Cook.

Meanwhile, another benefit the study looks at is boosting local economies.

"You know, it will allow some of our community to get trained up in these great jobs, it will showcase our community and obviously support businesses like restaurants and so on, so I think we should be taking advantage of that, and I'm so looking forward to the release of this study," says Collingwood Mayor Yvonne Hamlin.

The study is set to be released on February 29. The South Georgian Bay Media Association will also host a launch event to bring stakeholders and the local filmmaking community together.

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