Ottawa might soon be home to a major new training and production facility for budding movie-makers at Algonquin, if a National Capital Commission vote scheduled on Nov. 22 goes according to plan.
The NCC board of directors is set to decide on the proposition at a public meeting on Nov. 22.
Film Commissioner Bruce Harvey is not worried about the pending vote, saying the response was overwhelmingly in favor.
“We should know in the morning on Thursday whether or not they are going to allow the change in the master plan if they say no then that it, it’s off the table.”
The Ottawa Film Office, in partnership with private film company TriBro Studios, is hoping to build a sound stage campus and creative hub on the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) property at the former Greenbelt Research Farm, 1740 Woodroffe Ave.
According to the Ottawa Film Industry FAQ page, the project has an estimated cost of $40 million, which would all come from private funding.
It’s estimated that in its first year the project would generate $25-$40 million and create up to 500 jobs for the film, television and animation sector.
If the proposition is accepted this could mean big things for Algonquin media department and its students.
“The film industry in Ottawa is thriving but they are lacking two crucial things,” said Robyn Heaton, dean of Algonquin’s Faculty of Arts, Media and Design.
“(It needs) crew to work behind the scenes and this is where we would come in and will help train these people,” said Heaton.
“We are losing a lot of business as a result of not having a facility that can produce movies and television shows,” said Mayor Jim Waston at a public consultation event on Sept. 5. “This is a great opportunity to use some land that is basically parking lots and roads and old buildings, and at the same time preserve the Greenbelt.”
Algonquin has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Education to create a film program. If it’s accepted, the program will hopefully start accepting students for the September 2019/2020 school year.
“We lose students who want to learn about filmmaking; they go to other areas like the GTA. Carleton University has a film studies program but it’s not as hands on,” said Heaton.
Right now, students wanting to study film at Algonquin have the option of taking the TV broadcasting program, which has carved out aspects of the curriculum to satisfy those specific students.
The film program would allow students to really dig deep into the world of filmmaking.
“There is a real push to create content, not just in the conventional ways that we are used to seeing,” Heaton said.
The Sound Stage would also open opportunities for future graduates of Algonquin to be hired.
“Our graduates will be more employable, will stay in Ottawa and contribute to Ottawa economy,” said Heaton.
According to the website the NCC is expected to make their decision mid-November with construction started summer of 2019 and a completion date of summer 2020.