Broadcaster Magazine

Montreal Sees Growth in TV and Film Production

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  • “Every actor should be lucky enough to film in Quebec,” says Peter Coyote.  “I think it’s a charmed environment.”

    At 75, the idiosyncratic American actor and Emmy Award-winning narrator has become more and more reluctant to leave his northern California ranch.  The script for “The Disappearance,” however, lured him across the border. Currently in production outside Montreal, the six-hour miniseries will air on CTV in 2024.

    “Then I came up here and I got the other four episodes of night shoots in Montreal in the winter outside and I thought, ‘Oh, you want to kill an old Jew, this is how to do it.”’Coyote is kidding. He brushes up on his French between takes with francophone cast and crew members as well as Productions Casablanca producers Joanne Forgues and Sophie Parizeau. He says he sees Canadians “as grown-up Americans.”

    “The Disappearance” is one of several English-language productions currently shooting in Montreal. With the TV business already booming in Vancouver and Toronto, Montreal is fast becoming a popular third option as a Canadian production hub.

    A second straight mild fall has probably helped. Generous tax incentives, seasoned crews and the relatively low Canadian dollar haven’t hurt either. Producers say Montreal also offers several “looks,” doubling well for North American as well as European capitals.

    Not every show stays. The ABC/CTV drama “Quantico” packed and left after one season, opting to shoot season 2 in New York. That series is set in and around New York, where production incentives are at an all-time high.

    The producers of the upcoming series “Jack Ryan” were happy to take up the slack. A TV version of Tom Clancy’s book and movie franchise is scheduled to begin production in Quebec in the New Year. John Krasinski will star as the savvy CIA operative, with Carlton Cuse — who’s been shooting U.S. cable shows in Vancouver  and Toronto —  among the executive producers.  The series will be available on Amazon Prime Video, a Netflix-like streaming service rumoured to be headed to Canada as early as next month.

    Other shows in production in Montreal include “Bellevue,” a CBC  mystery series starring Oscar winner Anna Paquin.
    It’s set to premiere on CBC next summer.

    Back for a fourth season in and around Montreal is “Mohawk Girls,” a dramedy set on a reservation. It returned late last month on APTN. “Real Detective,” a U.S. cable drama based on real cases and starring Vancouver-native Devon Sawa, is back in production for a second season.

    The CBC drama “This Life” has shot in Montreal for two seasons.  An adaptation of a popular Radio-Canada series, it stars Torri Higginson as a single mom/lifestyle columnist coping with cancer. The Comedy Network has also banked a fifth season of “Just for Laughs: All Access.”

    And wrapping production on a fourth and final season is another English series versioned from a Quebec French-language original: the Bravo police drama “19-2.” Starring Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes, it will return late next spring.

    “Montreal is my home now,” says Keeso, promoting his local bagel stop of choice by sporting a St-Viateur T-shirt. “Met my girlfriend and decided to stay.” His co-star Holmes also bought property in the city.

    Montreal is attracting feature film production as well. Ben Stiller was spotted this past Sunday along with Austin Abrams  shooting a scene from their upcoming feature “Brad’s Status.” Stiller plays the title character, a family man who’s obsessed with what he sees as his old high school friends’ better fortunes. Directed by Mike White, the film also stars Michael Sheen and Luke Wilson.

    Other films currently shooting in Montreal include “Early Release” starring Kelli Williams as well as the thriller “Sometimes the Good Kill.”