Massive film and TV production hub planned near Hamilton’s west harbour

The planned creation of a Hamilton Studio District was announced during a media conference at Bayfront Park on Tuesday morning.
The planned creation of a Hamilton Studio District was announced during a media conference at Bayfront Park on Tuesday morning. Ken Mann

A new studio group’s self-described mission is to build Hamilton into an “international hub for film, television and digital media production.”

Aeon Studio Group (ASG) has been joined by city officials in announcing a memorandum of understanding that lays out the framework for the purchase and sale of the city-owned Barton-Tiffany lands near the west harbour.

Mike Bruce, one of ASG’s partners, says they plan to create a “live-work-play development” on the brownfield site near the west harbour, including purpose-built modern studios and post-production facilities, creative workspaces and a pair of residential towers to support the burgeoning industry.

READ MORE: Film studio vision for Hamilton’s north end appears closer to reality

Bruce notes that more productions are choosing to film in Hamilton because it’s cost-effective, there’s access to provincial tax credits, it has many “diverse filming locations” and it is a city “packed with creative talent.”

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Mayor Fred Eisenberger describes it as an exciting opportunity noting that more filming in the City of Hamilton means more employment opportunities.

He says that’s why there are partnerships with McMaster University and Mohawk College, in terms of training programs, “to actually feed the industry that’s going to be operating out of here.”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s west harbour vision now includes film studios

Eisenberger also joked, during Tuesday morning’s announcement at Bayfront Park, “most Hamiltonians are thinking, ‘this is the mayor that put everything on the line to get a stadium in that location.'”

He added that “I’m still in therapy on that one, and every time I hear stadium my eyes twitch but you know what? We move on!”

READ MORE: Hamilton film production sector could benefit from an Oscars dividend

Hamilton is the second busiest film location in Ontario, according to city statistics. 811 permits were issued last year, a 50 per cent increase compared to 2017.

It will be several years before the project is completed, but Bruce predicts the first, 150,000 square feet of purpose-built studio space could be operational by next summer.

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LISTEN: Global News Radio’s Bill Kelly talks to Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr about a new studio group’s mission to build Hamilton into an international hub for film, television and digital media production.

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