What’s described as a “foothold on the future of film in northern Ontario” is setting up shop on Ferris Drive in North Bay.
With a $26 million investment, North Star Studios has acquired the former Epiroc building and is creating the region’s largest film and television studio space.
Mitch Ouimette, President, says there is no place that is going to match what will be coming out of North Bay.
“Between the facilities and the services, this city will become the desire of Toronto,” he says. “We’re going to aim to compete with the likes of Atlanta, the likes of London. Toronto will become a passing thought by the time we’re done building our infrastructure here.”
Ouimette says the initial work will see five stages built in the building.
“67,000 square feet of that will become production space, so actual studios. About 26,000 square feet will be offices to support those productions. We also have some expansion plans on either side of the building and then some eyes on future land and some more studios coming soon enough,” says Ouimette.
“This isn’t government money making this happen, this is all the private sector,” says Mayor Al McDonald. “That’s what we like to see as investments in our community, is the private sector involvement.”
North Star Studios has also signed a $150 million, 24-month production deal with ORWO Group, based in the United Kingdom.
“In North Bay, we plan on doing a film every one and a half months,” says Jake Seal, ORWO Group’s Executive Chairman.
The first production starts in about a month or so.
“We have to be a little tight-lipped about who’s in it, but it’s got two very well-known faces in it, one male and one female,” Seal says. “It’s an exciting, beautiful, and heartwarming Christmas story.”
He says our area offers a lot in terms of geography, people and production value.
The deal is estimated to eventually reach 1,000 new full-time jobs and $60 million in direct spending into the North Bay economy over the next two years.
Canadore College is looking forward to developing a relationship with North Star Studios.
“This is a wonderful announcement for our programming,” says George Burton, President and CEO of Canadore College.”It creates opportunities for our students to learn experientially and it’s going to provide employment opportunities for our graduates.”
He says it’s a triple win – for Canadore, the City of North Bay and their students.