Welland lining itself up for the movie business

Welland lining itself up for the movie business

Source: Welland Tribune

Lights. Camera. Action.

Welland is lining itself up for the movie business or, rather, helping movies get made in the Rose City.

During last week’s general committee meeting of city council, economic development officer Lisa Allen introduced a commercial filming guideline during an update on her office’s activities last year.

“There is a lot of interest in Welland and Niagara,” said Allen.

In 2022, regional employment in the film industry sector was 934 people, councillors heard.

Allen said St. Catharines launched FilmSTC in 2022, and in 2023 Niagara Region launched a film sector profile, followed by Fort Erie and Port Colborne both launching film policies.

Since 1975, Welland has been a site for filming 12 significant productions including “Recommendations for Mercy,” “Baseball Girls,” “Blues Brothers 2000,” “Casino Jack,” “Don’t Call Me Bambino,” “Mulch,” “The Hotel Dieu,” “Fight!,” “The Rangers: Bloodstone,” “Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Amazing Race Canada” and “All Around Champions.”

“The purpose of developing a commercial film guideline is to standardize the permit and insurance process,” Allen said. “Develop standardized terms and conditions, also define internal roles and responsibilities when handling film requests, and production level and fee protocols. There’s a vast amount of incentives provincewide and countrywide for commercial filming, so highlight those incentives.”

Allen said Welland can be promoted as a destination for commercial filming and added there’s an online application form on the city’s website and a landing page.

The guidelines list a centralized point of contact — filming@welland.ca.

Allen said for Level 1 productions, which include feature films, documentaries, TV series, miniseries, reality TV series and short movies, there’s a nominal base rate application fee of $60, a base location fee per day/per location, and appropriate staff and resource chargebacks.

Level 2 productions, which include commercials and music videos, will face a base rate application fee of $40, a base location fee per day/per location, and appropriate staff and resource chargebacks.

There are no fees for independent film, student film, news and media outlets and photography, considered Level 3 productions.

Ward 6 Coun. Bonnie Fokkens questioned why other municipalities set policies on filming but Welland was only looking at guidelines, which she said are open to interpretation.

Fokkens also said council has no say in guidelines but does with policies, which are more restrictive.

“I’d like council to have a say,” she said.

Allen said the guidelines are to manage and help streamline the administrative process.

Chief administrative officer Rob Axiak said the city is “new” to the film industry and was trying to document different ways and methods to deal with it.

“We looked at the best ideas and concepts inside and outside the region. We need to start somewhere,” he said, adding a policy can be looked at down the line.

Axiak said this was the first attempt to put something together and the city, which has been approached by production companies, is hoping to attract new business.

Mayor Frank Campion said having guidelines at first allows the city more flexibility when dealing with production companies than a policy would.

Ward 4 Coun. Bryan Green asked if the guidelines pertained to city property only.

“Do we see a role to promote the private side? There may be unique facilities that may fit,” he said.

Allen said the guidelines apply only to city-owned property, and the city can look at promoting private lands.

All of the city’s sites that can be used for filming, such as Welland International Flatwater Centre, will be listed on a provincewide database that production companies can view.

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