First picture to shoot under deal will be $20m Your Perfect Angel by Donald Petrie.
Los Angeles-based American United Entertainment has created a $40 million “production infrastructure” in Torontoto take advantage of Ontario tax breaks as well as the city’s burgeoning digital industry and approximately 18,000 moving pictures’ graduates per year.
The $40 million will be directed towards feature films, television and/or digital media projects and AUE CEO Robert Rodriguez told Screen that the first picture before cameras will be Your Perfect Angel, budgeted at $20 million, to be directed by Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality) this autumn.
“We’re looking to start Your Perfect Angel in October,” said Rodriguez, who will also executive produce. The film veteran notes he has “never shot in Toronto. This will be my first.”
Rodriguez said the incentive to choose Ontario was: “The tax credit and the actual talent pool that Toronto is able to bring to the table in order for us to build our infrastructure. Toronto has a history of creating great talent pools in both production and digital media industries right now. There’s also a wealth of graduates from colleges and universities as well as veteran production talent. It was the highest ranking North American city in our research.”
The Ontario Technology Corridor initiated the deal during a trade mission in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Gerald Pisarzowski, VP business development for OTC told Screen: “Our strength is where the film side meets up with digital special effects, social media and the video gaming industry.”
Pisarzowski also noted that Ontario has attracted many big companies in recent years and that: “Ubisoft was a game-changer for Toronto.” Other multi-platform companies in the province include: Electronic Arts, Capcom Entertainment, Starz Animation, XYZ RGB, Digital Extremes, Silicon Knights, RIM and Corus Entertainment.
Tax incentives include the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (which refunds 35-40 per cent of eligible production costs) and the Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit (which refunds 20 per cent of labour costs).
Ontario’s Media Development Corporation (OMDC) Interactive Digital Media Fund also invests up to $150,000 in project production funding.
The “wealth of graduates” that Rodriguez refers to come from 22 Ontario universities and colleges that are pumping out more than 18,000 graduates per year. They come from 174 specialized digital media programs including 3D animation, film studies, advanced computer programming and hardware engineering.
Rodriguez’s “backers” include Bill Mechanic of Pandemonium Films (former Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment), Arnold Rifkin of Cheyenne Enterprises (and producer of Die Hard), Toronto-based Kevin Hicks and Thomas Sherak of Revolution Consulting (currently President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).