'As long as we keep getting grants from the government, production companies are going to come to North Bay'
North Bay is film and television friendly.
That was the key message delivered Monday as the city joined with industry representatives to present a unified front in reassuring the community a recent ban on a foam product used to simulate fake snow won’t have far-reaching consequences.
“This one small blip is not going to affect film production or television production in North Bay,” said Derek Diorio, one of several industry members to speak during a news conference at city hall.
A producer, director and writer, Diorio said there are alternatives to the Phos-Chek foam the city has prohibited due to environmental concerns. And, he suggested, producers should be beholden to the standards and rules set forth by the community.
“Filmmakers and television crews and productions are not going to stop coming to North Bay because of the suspension of one particular product,” said Diorio, noting he, along with other producers, plan to shoot a number of projects here.
The news conference comes a little more than a week after it was reported the city recently banned the use of Phos-Chek foam to simulate fake snow. Some within the industry have questioned the decision, suggesting the product is relatively safe, and many residents have speculated the move would drive away productions.
But city politicians, staff and industry players sought to quell both of those notions Monday with a shared message.
“I want to assure you, both the city and everyone actually working in the Ontario Northern industry have North Bay’s best interests at heart. If they don’t, they shouldn’t film here,” said Douglas Brisebois, location manager for the Carter TV series.
Although he can’t speak for the entire industry, Brisebois said he’s willing to wager that the majority will abide by “stricter regulations that safeguard our lakes and rivers and, ultimately, our drinking water for future generations.”
Brisebois said he gets calls regularly from producers interested in filming in North Bay.
“Believe me when I say it is not slowing down. It will continue to grow,” said Brisebois. “What we need now is to be diligent and to safeguard our environment and to create a lasting and vibrant industry.”
Lieann Koivukoski, owner of Post Production North, said she’s proud of the city for doing its due diligence watching out for the safety of the community and the environment,
“In order for us to keep inviting people back that want to shoot here, we gotta keep it the way we want it,” she said.
Jim Calarco, who operates a casting agency, said the film and television industry in North Bay is booming.
Calarco said he understands why some people may be concerned about the Phos-Chek ban. But offered assurances that film productions aren’t going to be leaving the city.
“If a production decided to leave, there are many more waiting in line to shoot. As long as we keep getting grants from the government, production companies are going to come to North Bay,” he said. “There’s just too much money at hand for them to go some place else.”
The sky in not falling, said Calarco, suggesting the city will do it’s due diligence in examining alternatives available to the industry.
The news conference heard from Peter Chirico, president and chief executive officer of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce about the importance of the film industry and the relationship the city has fostered with its members. In addition, David Euler, the city’s managing director of engineering, environmental service and works, provided more details about the city’s decision.
Coun. Tanya Vrebosch pointed to the various messages from the industry members.
“Those are the positive messages that we need to keep reiterating North Bay. We’re very supportive of the film industry. We are open for business,” she said, noting the city did not take the decision to ban the product lightly and that she fully supports staff on the matter.
Al McDonald thanked those who spoke for helping to convey a “positive” message about how friendly North Bay is to the industry, which has been gaining momentum in the city.
“We’re all working together,” he said, noting the film and television industry is a key economic driver.
“The negative side of this stuff has to be put aside and we have to talk about how positive it is to film is our community.”