Montreal is every filmmaker’s delight – beautiful, versatile and with the ability to transform into almost anything a script demands
Montreal, popularly known for its Canadian Grand Prix, ice hockey and The Big O (Olympics stadium), is the second-largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. Historical monuments, casinos, white Christmases and huge towers adorn the city, making it a paradise on earth for all tourists.
It has everything under one roof, the chivalry of the French and jazziness of the Americans. Varied ethnic communities from across the world have made this luminous city their home, where despite some flare-ups everyone sticks together by blending with each other’s cultures. Apart from this, it is the charm of Old Montreal that draws attention – the likes of the Old Port, Place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal City Hall and the Bonsecours Market.
Montreal is well-known for shooting since Hollywood’s film noir period. From bleak settings and old, sinister buildings to debonair locations and lavish living standards – the films have shown them all. One can be zapped on seeing how this city transforms itself in every shot – that’s the charm of Montreal, when captured on reel.
Furthermore, the number of huge, vacant industrial spaces made available to filmmakers to meet the needs of large-scale productions makes it an ideal destination. For instance, they made it possible to build an actual-size reproduction of the New York Library façade for the flooding scene in The Day After Tomorrow. With all this, can producers ask for more?
WHY FILM IN MONTREAL
• Location: Modern and truly multi-ethnic, Montreal embodies an amalgamation of English and French cultures. Indeed, very few of the world’s cities can offer Montreal’s phenomenal diversity of architecture spanning so many different styles and eras.
• Resources: With over 500 broadcasting and production companies, high quality and specialised services, extremely talented local crew, Montreal is a stand-in for many US and European locales due to its comparative pricing, high-tech facilities, large soundstages and skilled labour.
Montreal’s climate varies considerably. The city is known for its cold winters but its summers are hot and generally sunny, with occasional muggy days. May and October are arguably the most pleasant months. Evenings will often remain a little chilly except on the hottest days.
One thing worth understanding about Montreal is that it begins to snow in late November and, while quickly removed from roads and sidewalks, snow piles up everywhere else and remains part of the landscape until it begins to retreat in mid-March. Average temperatures vary from -13° to 5°C in January to 18°-27°C in July.
Since 1998, the Quebec and Canadian Governments have been offering generous tax credits for film and TV production. These credits are aimed at encouraging foreign producers to bring their projects here. The film commission helps filmmakers get in touch with Government officials who provide information on all aspects of tax credits, which can be of the order of 30 per cent of local labour costs. For green screen and special effects filming, these credits are close to 50 per cent of local labour costs.
Adding these fiscal rebates to an approximate 15 per cent saving on the US dollar, and factoring in a lower cost-of-living index, one can readily understand how Montreal succeeds in attracting so many producers from around the globe.
ASSESTS & INCENTIVES
The outstanding competence of its technicians, the talent and creativity of its artists and artisans and the state-of-the-art equipment and technical installations all make Montreal a prime and highly competitive destination within the network of major film and television production centres.
The City of Montreal is proud to be an active participant in the development of this industry, not only by facilitating shoots in public areas, but also by responding to producers’ requests and issuing the various permits in a timely fashion and free of charge.
Montreal also offers the benefits of a policy that makes most city locations, buildings and equipment accessible at no charge, although any costs related to municipal support and manpower remain the responsibility of the producers.