Every month, CION aims to profile a producer who has shot in Northern Ontario. We get their input about the state of the industry and the Northern amenities, services and locations they took advantage of for their films.
Maddy Falle knew she wanted to be in the Canadian TV & film industry ever since she was a kid. As an 11-year-old she appeared on shows like Murdoch Mysteries and Life with Derek, but it wasn’t until after graduating from Ryerson University in 2015 that she realized she was meant for a career behind-the-scenes.
Fast forward to today, and the producer and development manager at Gearshift Films has a number of projects under her belt, not to mention being honoured as one of Playback Magazine’s Five to Watch in 2019. Embracing the Northern Ontario film industry, with its unique locations and financial incentives, may be one of the contributing factors to her ongoing success.
“The North in general has kind of grown over the years. As much as I’m learning the ropes as a producer, the crews are also starting to grow and come together,” she says. “It feels like we’re all learning together as the industry scales up there.”
Accessible, affordable, and experienced local crew: The Last Mark finds a home in Sudbury
In 2020 when Gearshift Films was looking for a place to shoot its latest thriller, The Last Mark starring Shawn Doyle, the company knew Sudbury would offer the feel and vibe it was looking for. The feature needed to make use of a house that appeared to be in a fairly remote area, but the crew could also take advantage of the landscape outside of the downtown core as well as the city centre itself.
“There’s a very distinct aesthetic that I don’t think you can get in a big city,” Falle adds. “We haven’t shot as much outside and a lot of our films take place indoors, but there are different locations that are fantastic for filming and a lot of really cool locations by the water. Things you can’t find in Toronto.”
Falle reveals that because Sudbury in particular is also fairly accessible from Toronto, they were able to easily beef up their crew and quickly solve any logistics, such as getting camera equipment up there. She adds that having William F. White’s in Sudbury is especially helpful in getting their lighting and grip equipment.
Meanwhile, she adds that in addition to the tax incentives the production was able to make the most of its budget thanks to the lower prices in the area. In the end, savings on items as small as parking really added up. “It’s more cost effective,” she says.
That cosy vibe pays off creatively too. Falle says that in her experience, talent and other creatives enjoy the intimacy of the North—particularly right now with COVID since people aren’t coming and going as frequently as they maybe would be in non-pandemic times.
“You really get to collaborate in an intimate setting,” she says. “You have the opportunity to focus on the work and collaborate in a different way. I think the talent appreciate that. I've never had anyone begrudgingly go up there, usually it's quite enjoyable.”
CION offers support for filmmakers
Falle cites CION as a great resource for filmmakers looking to get in touch with things like locations scouts, crew or overall support. The producer also says that having people on the crew who are from the city you’re shooting in is an invaluable help. “There’s knowledge of the environment that we don’t have,” she says. “We can prep as much as we want to, but in my opinion it’s vital to have as many Northern crew as possible on your production.”
To date Falle has worked on four productions in the North and she plans to tackle more in the future. Gearshift is currently working on some unannounced projects that will potentially continue to take advantage of all the opportunities there, and Falle is looking forward to further growing her relationships with the community.
“There are more and more crew members available up there who have really worked to establish themselves,” she wraps. “I love working with the crews in the North and I really enjoy collaborating with everybody who's up there. I feel like we've all kind of grown together.”