Lights, Camera, Action! Manitoba film industry prepared to roar back following actor strike

 Lights, Camera, Action! Manitoba film industry prepared to roar back following actor strike

Actors, artists, and more are preparing for a busy filming season.

Doug Morrow’s career as a Hollywood makeup artist started early. As a kid, he was fascinated by the makeup used in old monster movies. And then he saw the original Planet of the Apes.

“I thought that was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” recalled Morrow. “And I just had this incredible fascination with how they transform people for the movies.”

Now he’s the one transforming people by working on the original Jumangi with Robin Williams, episodes of the X-Files and on Happy Gilmore. But to get the work early on, he had to leave Manitoba and go to Vancouver. 

“I just knew that if I really want to get into it I’d have to move in Canada to Toronto or Vancouver,” said Morrow.  “So I chose Vancouver. I had a bit of family there and I knew that the industry was quite busy.

Today he’s quite busy himself working right here in Manitoba.  Morrow says the film industry in our province has been on a steady upswing, although there were blips during COVID and the recent Hollywood actors and writers strike. 

Manitoba Film and Music says the labour dispute was challenging for the local film industry. 

“We did have a number of productions that got cancelled,” said Lynne Skromeda, Manitoba Film and Music’s CEO.

But even during the strike, scouts were looking at Winnipeg – and many liked what they saw. 

“We’ve got four feature films as well as a made for television movie as well as a French language television series that’s going to be shooting here in the next sort of four to six months,” said Skromeda.  “So really, really strong spring expected here.”

One of those films, Hair of the Bear, will be directed by Alexandre Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin Tudeau’s brother.

And while it isn’t shooting here, local production company Buffalo Gals is working with Winnipeg director Guy Maddin, and actress Cate Blanchette on a major studio film called Rumours.

“The strengths we have here really does make it viable to be here and do things here,” said Skromeda.

Rea Kavanagh, an ACTRA branch representative says the success the industry has enjoyed over the past few years will result in more productions coming to Manitoba. 

“I do actually I think that there’s a real concerted effort across the film and media community in terms of education and outreach,” said Kavanagh.  “I think that our tax credit is strong, and known outside of our jurisdiction. So that really helps to secure awareness of Winnipeg and Manitoba for people that that would seek to come here from elsewhere.”