City of Toronto launches filming pilot program at TDSB locations

The City of Toronto, in collaboration with the local screen industry, is launching xoTO Schools, a pilot program with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to enable enhanced access for location filming at 11 pre-approved TDSB properties as well as interactive educational opportunities for students.

Mayor John Tory made the announcement today with Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth), Chair of the Toronto Film, Television and Digital Media Board, alongside TDSB Director of Education John Malloy, TDSB Chair of the Board Robin Pilkey, TDSB Trustee Jennifer Story (Ward 15, Toronto-Danforth) and Victoria Harding, Associate Executive Director of the Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario.

“This new program opens up access to locations that are very desirable to productions filming in the city,” said Mayor Tory. “xoTO Schools will also create exciting new co-op placements and educational opportunities for youth working towards careers in screen based industries.”

“Toronto continues to attract top film and television talent, and I could not be more pleased that our students will now have the chance to work alongside industry professionals through this partnership with the City,” said Pilkey.

Filming at these locations will take place primarily during summer months and on evenings and weekends during the school year. At the pre-approved locations, the scouting and permit application processes will be streamlined with designated permit personnel servicing applications. It will also feature a special daily rate card and a 72-hour permit turnaround timeline.

“Through the City’s strong partnerships with the unions, guilds and companies involved in filming at these locations, we were able to help create exceptional co-op placements,” said Councillor Fletcher. “I would like to thank them and the TDSB for making these opportunities happen for youth in Toronto.”

Co-op placements will be created through the academic year in categories such as makeup, hair, sound, special effects, props, set decoration, costume design, continuity, lighting, grip, construction, paint and transportation. The students will work with industry professionals, providing them with unprecedented on-the-job training that will best position those who want to further their education and employment opportunities in the industry.

Toronto’s unions and guilds will also work with the TDSB to provide students access to industry workshops, seminars, events and guest speakers that support existing TDSB film arts curriculum, and to educate students on the variety of jobs available in the film industry.

The xoTO Schools pilot project will run until June 2019. It will be reviewed quarterly by all partners throughout its term and it is supported by the project partners at the Ontario Media Development Corporation. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/business-economy/industry-sector-support/film/why-film-in-toronto/.

The xoTO Schools pilot project also fulfils one of the action priorities of Spotlight on Toronto: A Strategic Action Plan for the Film, Television and Digital Media Industry, which was unanimously approved by City Council in 2017.

Toronto has one of the largest screen-based (film, television, commercials, animation) industries in North America, employing more than 30,000 people. For the third consecutive year, this important sector has contributed more than $1.5 billion to Toronto’s economy.