Brampton is in Character
Diverse settings, low dollar, accessibility make this Toronto suburb an ideal film location.
It has stood in for a slick modern courtroom in Toronto. It has been portrayed as a small village in Ecuador, and represented medical facilities in Boston and other parts of New England. And is an integral part of the creepy, fictional community of Hemlock Grove.
Very rarely does Brampton get to drop the mask and be itself, but in the world of television and film, that is the way business is done.
“There is only a rare occasion where you get a show like Flashpoint that is actually intended to take place in the Greater Toronto Area,” says Sharon Wilcox, film commissioner at the Brampton Film Office. “That’s the nature of the business. It’s all storytelling, and 98 percent of the time we are representing somewhere else.”
That approach is the foundation for drawing filmmakers, producers, directors, writers, and location scouts to use Brampton as the backdrop for their stories.
The ability to adopt different personas is an area where Brampton has a lot to offer, whether it is playing the courtroom in To Die For with Nicole Kidman, providing a forested cover for Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren in the motion picture Red, offering that remote forest location for Laurence Fishburne to discover a body in the Hannibal TV Series, or substituting for the road out of town in the last episode of the Netflix original series Hemlock Grove.
“Brampton is not just suburbia; it offers an extensive variety of locations,” says Wilcox. “We have dense, forested locations at multiple conservation areas and parks; modern, slick, new buildings; and the small town look and feel in our downtown and Gage Park. We have homes from all periods in history, including huge mansions and executive homes. The settings we offer are what the TV and film industry is looking for.”
From a logistics perspective, Brampton is ideally situated for film and TV crews, Wilcox says, with support services and equipment available, as well as an active and experienced labour pool; as an added bonus, Brampton sits within what is known as the “Union Zone,” meaning producers don’t have to pay extra to get crews to the location.
These practical benefits, in conjunction with incentives from the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the low Canadian dollar and easy accessibility via air or highway, are drawing more and more productions to Brampton.
Some of the other recent shows and films that have featured Brampton include:
- Don McKellar and Kim Cattrall’s HBO show Sensitive Skin, which has filmed at City Hall.
- The Netflix original movie Special Correspondents, starring Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana.
- The futuristic SyFy series Defiance was shot in part at Claireville Conservation Area.
- Orphan Black, a Space Channel original series, has established Brampton’s Mount Pleasant Village as a fixture in the show, using local businesses, a community centre, and the streetscape.
- The Expanse, starring Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo. This is a SyFy series set 200 years in the future, premiering on Dec. 14, 2016.
- Daytime Emmy-winning kids’ show Odd Squad films regularly in and around Brampton.
The economic impact of filming is significant. It also spawns film tourism, attracting a core audience of movie and TV buffs who travel to areas where their favorite shows and movies are filmed. To that end, Brampton is in the process of developing a self-guided tour of the locations where major productions that have been filmed in the city.
“But at the end of the day, the big thing for us in Brampton is customer service,” says Wilcox. “We do everything in our power to make finding a location easy. We work hard to ensure that everything goes great.”
The ninth-largest city in Canada, Brampton celebrates a diverse population that represents people from 209 distinct ethnic backgrounds who speak 89 different languages. Brampton residents and visitors have access to state-of-the-art recreation facilities and one of the fastest-growing transit systems in Canada. For more information, visit www.brampton.ca, or follow @CityBrampton on Twitter.