Filmport opens in Toronto. Finally

Toronto's long-awaited mega-studio opens to cheers from city and industry officials despite empty stages. 'It's now my Notre Dame, my cathedral,' says director David Cronenberg.
August 21, 2008

After ten years of politicking, posturing and false dawns, Toronto finally has a mega-studio. Phase 1 of Filmport, comprising seven state-of-the-art, soundproof sound stages, opened its doors Wednesday.

With Mayor David Miller and hometown director David Cronenberg at his sides, Filmport president Ken Ferguson cut the ribbon on the eco-friendly studio complex built on a one-time Imperial Oil tank facility on the city’s portlands.

‘In these challenging times for the Toronto film industry, we needed a boost,’ said Ferguson. ‘We hope Filmport can play a role in putting Toronto where it belongs, back on top.’

Before it reaches that goal, Filmport will need tenants. Currently, it has George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead 2 renting production offices as the cult director shoots on location in Toronto. But the continuing studio-SAG standoff stateside has put a halt to major studio sign-ups, beyond a few soft holds.

Jeffrey Steiner, president and CEO of the Toronto Economic Development Corporation, which owns the land on which Filmport stands and gave the studio a 99-year lease on which to operate, said the initial purpose-built studio space and mega sound stages launched Wednesday was only a hint of future film and TV development nearby.

‘There’s more to come,’ he told the ribbon-cutting event.

After the completion of phase one, Filmport is slated to house an eventual three million square feet of space for ancillary film and TV businesses, including post-production facilities, film schools, union and guild offices, and restaurants, shops and condos clustered around the studio complex.

Filmport projects around 2,000 people will eventually work on the studio lot, and another 4,000 will work in surrounding commercial buildings.

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