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Film industry makes return in Kingston with CBC documentary, Netflix series ‘Locke and Key’

Last Updated on November 13, 2020 by YGK News Staff

After a cautious resumption, the Kingston Film Office is starting to see significant filming activity in the region. Production had been slow through September as major production studios were addressing COVID-19 related insurance concerns.

“Film productions were not being fully covered by insurance companies if they were forced to shut down due to COVID-19. The federal government then stepped in to offer a vital backstop to domestic film production companies,” Alex Jansen, Film Commissioner at the Kingston Film Office said. The $50-million fund managed through Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund offers Canadian film and television productions a maximum compensation of $1.5 million in the case of a temporary interruption and $3 million in the case of a complete shutdown of production due to COVID-19.

While 2019 was a record year for film and television production in Kingston, 2020/2021 will also bring major productions to Kingston and involve big players, such as Netflix, Paramount and CBC Docs. According to a report to council on November 3rd, the Film Office has already confirmed one production this fall and another “two significant” productions for early 2021. The report also says that there will be an independent feature filmed which is planned to be filmed entirely in the Frontenac area. 

Film industry generated over $500,000 towards local economy last year

Additionally, Jansen says that the film productions generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Kingston economy last year. For the Netflix Production DC Titans, more than $250,000 had been spent locally on accommodations, meals, hotels, suppliers and crew. Other productions such as Star Trek: Discovery and Murdoch Mysteries generated over $160,000 and $75,000 respectively for the local Kingston economy.

The Kingston Film Office’s statistics show that film crews are staying in Kingston to film longer. In particular, Kingston will host 21 overnight productions, which is 140% of their initial 2020 goal.

Upcoming episode of the Nature of Things filmed in Kingston

An upcoming episode of the Nature of Things, Directed by brother of the late Gord Downie is among recent films being produced in Kingston.

“[In September] filmmaker Mike Downie was filming The Covid Cruise, Premiering on The Nature of Things, Friday November 27th at 9pm. The Nature of Things celebrates its 60th anniversary this November,” Frances Bedford, senior communications officer for the news and current affairs of CBC told YGK News

The film crew used Kingston’s waterfront to emulate a simulation of an outbreak. “Told through the eyes of the cruise passengers, The Covid Cruise investigates the science behind the behind the outbreaks on several major cruise lines, and how these lessons continue to affect every one of us today, and for a long to come,” the documentary synopsis reads. 

This week, Kingston was also host to film crews filming the Netflix original series ‘Locke and Key.’ The filming locations included Kingston’s city hall and the Tir Nan Og. City hall had been staged as a market for the supernatural horror series, and Tir Nan Og has been designed as a storefront.

A photo of a cruise ship being simulated on Kingston’s waterfront

Both fall productions operated under under strict provincial guidelines prepared by the Section 21 Film and Television Health and Safety Advisory Committee and approved by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

Kingston has been host to several Netflix series in the recent past, including Titans and Alias Grace.

In the future, the Kingston Film Office hopes to grow the local film economy, enabling more citizens to be involved in production. It has done this through offering workshops which give an opportunity for students and Kingstonians to grow their film skill sets. In 2019/2020, a trial practicum was also launched where nearly 20 Queen’s Film and Media students did multiple short term placements. The workshops are currently on pause but are expected to resume in January 2021.

Watch the trailer from the upcoming CBC Documentary below:


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