Source: Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — The City of Ottawa has issued a ‘request for proposals’ for a multimedia studio just as film and television production in the city seems to have stalled.
The studio, to serve film, television and digital productions, is badly needed and comes at a time when the City of Ottawa is serious about developing the industry and competing with other cities for productions. The city also named a new film commissioner earlier this year and rolled the revitalized film office under the Invest Ottawa banner and provided it with more funding than past incarnations of the office.
The city is committing $1.5 million in capital funding toward the cost of the new studio. According to the RFP, the estimated value of the studio is about $5 million and the proposed operating period runs from October 2012 to December 2024. The city hopes to have the studio up and running by late 2013.
The deadline for submissions is Aug. 24.
Penthouse North, a thriller with stars Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan, shot here in the winter months and created a lot of buzz in the film community. But since then, outside film productions, and TV series have almost ground to a halt. Even the CBC series Michael Tuesdays and Thursdays was expected back here for a second season of filming but CBC budget cuts killed the project after just one season.
But the lack of productions in recent months in the city is not a cause for worry as more movie and TV work is expected to grow in the coming months, said Saad Bashir, the city’s economic development manager, which oversees the film office.
“The thing about Ottawa’s film and TV market that I have noticed is that it is very unpredictable,” said Bashir.
“Sometimes you have a lot of productions coming in and sometimes there might be a bit of a slow period. However, from what I understand, the traffic that Ottawa sees for this kind of business usually happens in the summer months. I would expect we should be seeing productions happening throughout the summer and fall.
He said there are plenty of “business opportunities” that the film office could capitalize on to attract productions to come and shoot in Ottawa. He said he hopes the studio could attract productions that would normally go to other cities such as Winnipeg and Calgary, which are thriving film centres and offer enticing tax credits to producers.
Bashir said the size of the multimedia studio and cost of the project will be determined by the interested partners who can better gauge the scope of the studio.
“We’re looking for proponents who are going to provide responses (to the RFP) and give us proposals on how big or small of a film studio project they feel the Ottawa market can bear. The cost estimates will range according to the size and the scope of the project, he added.
Chris Knight, filmmaker and chairman of Invest Ottawa’s creative industries working group, said the timing is right for Ottawa to pursue a multimedia studio space.
“The timing is such that the whole film, television and digital media community has rallied around this new economic development call with our working group,” said Knight.
He acknowledged that over the years there has been too much talk and study done on the feasibility of a studio space, but now there is more interest in getting it completed.
“It’s early days, but all indications point toward a renewed commitment on everybody’s part to get together and really make this work,” said Knight.
The City of Gatineau is also jumping on the studio bandwagon and has started a feasibility study to determine if a multimedia production centre could be set up in the Outaouais.
“We’re not looking to compete with Ottawa,” said Roch Brunette, a consultant on the study, adding that Gatineau’s studio space is expected to be between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet.
There are also plans to hire a film commissioner for Gatineau after the feasibility study is completed at the end of August.
© Ottawa Citizen