The Timmins-born Letterkenny producer, like many Ontarian creative types, had always thought that living in Toronto was a prerequisite to working in the film industry. And she did — for a while. “When I started talking to New Metric, which produces Letterkenny, about the job, they asked if I would be open to living up north,” Haflidson says. “And I said, not only would I be open to it — it would be the best!”
Unbeknownst to Mark Montefiore, New Metric’s president who hired Haflidson to work on Letterkenny, the Timmins-born producer had always imagined herself working up north. Haflidson moved to Toronto at age 19 to pursue her dream of working in film, and stayed put for 14 years. She was happy — and successful — but her heart always lived north of Muskoka. “I love Toronto,” she says. “It’s a great city. But I always dreamed that I’d come back up here.”
Haflidson’s history with Letterkenny involves a bit of back-and-forth. Prior to joining New Metric, she was working within Bell Media’s original programming department, and was actually in the room when Letterkenny was pitched to the network. She worked on the series when it was in development, and was involved in the show on behalf of Bell Media in its early seasons. “I loved the show, I loved Jared (Keeso) and Jacob (Tierney), the show’s creators, so Letterkenny held a special place in my heart from day one,” she says. However, a few seasons in, Haflidson left Bell for a position with DHX media, where she says she realized how much she missed the Letterkenny team. “I texted Mark (Montefiore), and said ‘I think you should hire me,’ “ she says. “And he hired me.”
Letterkenny currently shoots in Sudbury, where Haflidson lives full-time. Having worked on sets and in production in Toronto, Haflidson does acknowledge that there are some differences between working in the city and working up north — particularly on a show like Letterkenny, where on-site, outdoor shooting is common.
“The first season I worked on Letterkenny, in the capacity I’m currently working on the show, it was the show’s first winter season,” she says. “And so that was, for myself just a bit of a learning experience.” One episode, for instance, sees the show’s main gang on an ice-fishing excursion, which the crew had planned to shoot on an actual lake. “It looks like we were on the lake, which was the plan, but we’re not,” Haflidson says. “We’re beside it. But it was so warm, and the ice was melting, so it just wasn’t safe.”
Of course, three hours later, it started snowing. “Thankfully, the cast and crew are beauties,” she says, betraying a bit of Letterkenny-esque Northern Ontario jargon.
Like the show’s fictional townsfolk, the Letterkenny crew doesn’t have to travel far outside of their comfort zone to get what they need: Haflidson says that, while film and television production in Northern Ontario a decade ago may have been more reliant on resources — like personnel and equipment — from Toronto or other major cities, “now, we can get pretty much whatever and whoever we need up here.”
“The crews up here have now been doing what they’re doing for quite a long time,” she says. “There are some things that still need to come from the city, but the North is well-stocked.”
Letterkenny has received support from CION, in the form of funding from the Mapped program. “The whole team at CION have been fantastic in terms of not only resources, but helping navigate questions or problems,” Haflidson says.