Big stars key to Ottawa film success

Getting A-list movie stars to come to Ottawa is part of producer Ron Schwarzmann’s master plan, but he knows it’s easier said than done since there are no direct flights from Los Angeles to Ottawa.

“Al Pacino would be waiting for two hours in Montreal,” said Schwarzmann.

Sorting out the logistics would clear the way, he said, and he’s planning to contact Air Canada to see if charter flights can be arranged.

“If you can have a direct flight here, then you will probably have major production,” he said.

Actor Michael Keaton is filming in the city, said Ottawa Tourism spokeswoman Jantine Van Kregten.

Keaton is starring in a thriller called Penthouse North, co-starring Michelle Monaghan.

Schwarzmann said all it takes is one big star to come to town for Ottawa to gain recognition.

“Logistically, it’s very easy to move around the city and we have so many locales to shoot in,” he said.

Compared to Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto, “I think it is a better city to shoot in.” The city is raising its profile by hiring a new film commissioner, Genevieve Menard Hayles, who starts the gig in January.

“Her mandate is going to be to very simply increase the number of filming days here in Ottawa,” said Invest Ottawa president and CEO Bruce Lazenby.

Plans for a film and digital media studio are also in the works.

The city has set aside $1.5 million in capital funds “on the condition that we get matching money from other sources, because $1.5 million won’t be enough to do it,” said Lazenby.

In 2010, local film production value was estimated at $83 million and $23 million was spent directly in the region.

Van Kregten says being on the radar is important.

“I mean, we’re definitely known within Canada as the capital, but in the States or elsewhere in the world, I think we have work to do to raise our profile,” said Van Kregten.

It’s all about “just that little whiff of glamour that comes from having Hollywood stars in our midst,” she said.


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