film production canada

TV and film production is now allowed to begin in some parts of Canada

It's no secret that this pandemic has changed the face of TV and movie production; Jimmy Kimmel is interviewing Canadian celebrities via Zoom, and Premier Doug Ford has started his own cooking channel to teach people how to make cheesecake (no, really).

But if you're looking forward to watching big-budget feature films shot on location, then there's good news: production is now allowed to start up in parts of Canada again.

As of Monday, Manitoba's reopening plan will allow film productions to resume operations as part of phase two — albeit with some hefty health and safety restrictions.

All cast and employees are asked to maintain two metres from others where possible, have virtual rehearsals, maintain a single point of entry onto the set, use hand hygiene stations around the set and use a non-medical mask in close-contact situations (e.g. hair, make-up, camera).

Crews travelling into the province from abroad will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with Canada's public health mandate.

On Screen Manitoba has also released a Media Production Health and Safety Guide, which recommends that productions organize people into "teams" or "pods" and stagger start times to reduce risk.

Cathie Edgar, Chair of the Manitoba District Council for the Directors Guild of Canada, said in a press release that members are "excited and eager to get back to work," but that safety remains the top priority.

"Now, we have to ensure that all productions follow these protocols and see to it that key details, like the responsibility for infection prevention, are worked out," she said.

She added that the guide is a "good first step," but that production in Manitoba won't reopen immediately because "there's still work to be done."

Nevertheless, Manitoba could become a movie hotspot this summer; the province is already seeing a large amount of interest from producers in other provinces and major international studios, according to Rachel Rusen, CEO of Manitoba Film and Music.

"I think we're going to see the same things that happened when SARS broke out," she told CBC. "We benefited from large scale production work that wasn't intended for Manitoba."

And it's not just Manitoba that could be restarting production soon; British Columbia is also hoping to reopen for business after 42 productions were halted in mid-March, per Global News.

"We have a film and television industry that can, I believe, come back more quickly than in other places because of the good work of British Columbians and keeping our curve from growing," Premier John Horgan said last week.

The degree of Manitoba's success will have a large impact on the rest of Canada's film industry, according to Dave Forget, National Executive Director of the Directors Guild of Canada.

"All eyes across the country, and even internationally, are going to be watching how production reopens in Manitoba," Forget said in a release.

"The first productions to start back up in Winnipeg will have a tremendous responsibility to uphold the highest standards of health and safety and not jeopardize the return to work for the entire industry."

The Canadian film industry currently employs about 172,000 people across the country; a report in April estimated that the sector risks taking a $2.5 billion hit if production remains shut down until the end of June.

A number of major movies and TV shows are expected to begin filming across Canada this summer should production reopen, including the second season of Locke & Key.

Major productions such as Riverdale and Batwoman that were put on hold due to the pandemic might also resume filming.

Lead photo by

Donald Edgar


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