Toronto has racked up some record numbers for TV and film production in 2017, surpassing the $2 billion mark for the first time in the City’s history. A lot of this $2 billion comes from the James Cameron/Guillermo del Toro film Fantastic Voyage which is currently in production at the Pinewood Studios, in addition to the ongoing filming of the newest Star Trek series. Though much of this development is occurring elsewhere throughout the city, one might be surprised to know the amount of influence that Liberty Village has had on that number.
The influence of Liberty Village on Toronto’s $2 billion TV and film production begins with Take 5 Productions, one of Canada’s top names in television drama. Overseen by president John Weber, Take 5 Productions has played a role in producing Beauty and the Beast (the TV series, not the film) and the historical television drama Reign, both of which are shot primarily on Toronto soundstages. Take 5 Productions is also well known for its post-production facilities which have played a major role in developing recent TV dramas including History’s Vikings, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and CBS’ American Gothic.
Among all of Take 5 Productions’ work in 2017, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale has garnered the best reviews of any English-language series in North America this year. This says something as it pertains to the talent of those that are working in Liberty Village as well as to the quality of city productions. And yes, they are playing a role in the production of Star Trek: Discovery, presently in the process of being filmed at Pinewood Studios and to be sent into post-production likely at Take 5 Productions’ Offices on Atlantic Avenue.
Though Take 5 Productions is Liberty Village’s biggest success in TV and film production this year, there are a number of production agencies and companies working towards developing a wide array of different content, attracting eyes to Toronto. For example, VICE Canada recently opened their head offices in Liberty Village and have been well connected with producing content for not only their own website brand but also its subsidiaries such as Broadly and noisey. There’s also JAM Post who has worked on the Canadian-American supernatural Western horror TV series Wynonna Earp, garnering strong critical reviews throughout the past year and multiple award nominations.
There are also several TV and film production companies based in Liberty Village that have built global brands on an undercard level. Alcina Pictures is a film house that has played a fundamental role in developing the award-winning Amreeka (2009), the post-apocalyptic The Colony (2013), and recently helped put together the Norwegian-Canadian co-production Revenge (2016). There’s also WestWind Pictures who have most notably produced the CBC hit comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie roughly a decade ago.
Needless to say, so much of the post-production happenings in Toronto’s television industry are accomplished in Liberty Village and the surrounding neighborhoods. Though in the past, the area has been the setting for some real classics in film, the neighborhood no longer has the space or the industrial look that it once had to accommodate the kinds of productions it used to. So much of these spaces are now the home of residential condo complexes or small businesses.
The fact that so many post-production facilities have moved into Liberty Village communicates the value that these major companies see in the neighborhood, which is great for the area’s reputation, its prestige, and its property values.
Throughout the past decade, as there has been more momentum with new production houses moving in, literally hundreds of hours of content are produced every year, airing on networks worldwide. On average, the work of Liberty Village’s media labour force reaches over 100 countries every year. No matter if it’s scripted, documentary, or children’s programming, there is something to be said for the amount of work and the scope of accomplishments that can be attributed to production offices in the neighborhood. For Canadians who are fans of the productions that have been launched in Liberty Village and for current residents of the neighborhood, there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to being a Torontonian in the west end.