Thunder Bay’s Film Community – An Unpolished Diamond!


10-57 with Swat Team and Rodney DwiraTHUNDER BAY – There is a depth of artistic talent in Thunder Bay that likely rivals any community of similar size. The musical talents, the artistic talents and the film and video talent in our community are a part of what makes our community so special.

Thunder Bay has a film community that is producing feature documentaries, movies, and music videos as well as television commercials, and educational short films.

The economic impact of the film community and its potential for our city is currently like the “Ring of Fire” in the mining community. Everyone knows there is economic potential, but no one is really sure what it is, or what that potential could be.

One of the keys to boosting the economy is generating a positive return on investment (ROI). Here is an example of how and investment in the film community can generate a return to the city. A thousand dollar investment to invite Mexican filmmakers and the Monterrey International Film Festival to our community has a potential of $40,000 of investment to our community college, because Monterrey Mexico University students are interested in northern ontario programing, and film making..

That investment will circulate through the local economy, benefiting local businesses and our entire community.

Can’t Change the World – Shy-Anne Hovorka; shot in Thunder Bay by Matt Popowich – Westfort Films Produced By: Rob Benvegnu.

Right now, Sudbury is taking the lead in this area. Three months ago, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci said, “I look forward to Sudbury defining itself in the future, with the help of the partners in the film industry, not only as the film capital of Northern Ontario, but the film capital of Canada. I believe we can achieve that.”

Millions of dollars have been invested in Sudbury, mostly through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

Through 2010 about $8 million dollars have flowed forward into film production in Northern Ontario. The economic benefit of that spending is about $70 million.

Wax Philosophic, Shot in Thunder Bay, directed by Damien Gilbert

Thunder Bay has very positive attributes that are working to our advantage. The city and region can look like many places. There are a wide variety of vistas that can allow film makers to capture images that can range from the early days of the fur trade, western movies, or create scenes from any decade in the 20th Century.

Where on Earth is My Bike? by Paul Morralee, MorVision

While some are looking for the economic benefits from the Ring of Fire, we should all hope that the City of Thunder Bay, our two MPPs, and our MPs are all able to realize that investments in film, movie and video production have immediate returns and the city can benefit right away.

The Community Economic Commission in Thunder Bay has been working toward an inventory of assets in the city which can be used to boost the film community.

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has been working in conjunction with the Thunder Bay film community towards the growth of film related productions in the city and has developed the Thunder Bay Film Experience website.  The goal of the website is to provide assistance to potential filmmakers.

Rodney Dwira of Alphabet Productions was retained by Toronto based Hip Hop/Rap artist Refix to produce Refix’s debut music video for his new hit single Set It Off

The website offers information about the local film community and focuses on reducing up front scouting and research time for people who are interested in filming in and around Thunder Bay and region. The website also showcases a vast indoor and outdoor photo/video gallery and a production resource directory.

Steps are coming forward to make Thunder Bay’s arts and film community stronger, which are positive steps toward the “Emerging Thunder Bay”.

In the long run, while a mine may have a life of 10, 20 or thirty years. Film production does not have a limited lifespan. It is an investment that keeps going.

James Murray

From Thunderstone Pictures: Sometimes art imitates life, and when it does, it can be very therapeutic. Such is the case when the lives of four Anishinabek (Ojibway) youth change forever as they land the lead roles in a film drama designed to combat suicide, depression and racism (Seeking Bimaadiziiwin). Delving into their roles, the youth discover striking parallels between their fictional characters and their own lives. Through their participation in the film, they develop tools that help them build a framework to remedy their own struggles with abuse, alcohol, poverty and racism.

Produced by Michelle Derosier and Dave Clement
Directed by: Michelle Derosier

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