What it takes to make a movie, Manitoba-style

By Nicole Matiation

Throughout this incredible period of change and challenge, there is no doubt that arts and culture is important to Canadians. In the last few months, we have collectively consumed more TV shows and movies, more information programs, more YouTube concerts, poetry and play readings, have played more videogames, listened to more podcasts and visited more news websites than ever before. Connection through stories is so important to who we are. So what does it take to make a movie, Manitoba style?

Manitoba’s media production industry plays a role locally, nationally and internationally in telling those stories in all genres and formats, in both official and some Indigenous languages. Manitoba production companies, actors, directors, musicians, wardrobe, make up and set creators, lighting, camera and digital media professionals contribute to creating shows like Burden of Truth (Eagle Vision), Polar Bear Town (Merit Motion Pictures), Canot Cocasse (Manito Média), Main à la pâte (Productions Rivard), Stand! (Frantic Films).

The media production industry is part of Manitoba’s vibrant arts and culture sector, the Manitoba actors you seen on your screens often also work in live theatre – many film and television industry professionals work both on set and back stage whether in lighting, set, wardrobe or make up, some are artists in their own right.

Before the pandemic, Manitoba was experiencing its highest ever total production volume at $269.4 million attracting millions of dollars into the Manitoba economy that was spent on goods and services and to create some 2000 jobs. Like most industries, ours was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. When we create stories, we collaborate as a group. Over 100 jobs can be required on a single film set on any one day of shooting.

The construction department builds entire sets from scratch, electricians are the backbone of the camera and lighting departments and makeup and hair professionals bring their expertise and creativity into our industry. This is a small snapshot of the many departments that exist in film and television. Our highly skilled and creative workforce is actively engaged in the broader arts and culture ecosystem with their own arts practices as well.

Recently, On Screen Manitoba struck a working group with local producers and other industry stakeholders including government to develop new health safety protocols on set. When restrictions are lifted and we are able to produce our award-winning content again, I am confident that with guidelines in place and through continued collaboration, we will be able to carry out our creative work while ensuring the health and safety of our whole community.

In the meantime, there is incredible Manitoba-made content available to stream online in your own home. For some ideas of award-wining Manitoba made content to watch please visit: https://onscreenmanitoba.com/stream-manitoba-made-film-and-television-online/

I encourage you to discover a locally made show or film, until our cameras can safely roll again.

Nicole Matiation, Executive Director of On Screen Manitoba