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Ontario Creates’ Tips for Pursuing Creative Careers

Justin Cutler
Justin Cutler
Justin Cutler, Ontario Film Commissioner, on set

Ontario Creates, leaders and advocates for the creative industries, talks about how and why getting involved in a creative career is important today and the opportunities within it.

Mediaplanet: What makes the creative industries unique?

Ontario Creates: There are few industries which offer both creativity and return on investment (ROI), while providing high-quality jobs. That makes creative industries unique from other industries in that their creativity is also their economic engine. For instance, the six industries supported by Ontario Creates film, television, books, magazines, music and interactive digital media (IDM)–contribute $6 BILLION to Ontario’s GDP and generated nearly 65K JOBS. (*Source: Statistics Canada 2017 data)

How can we end the stigma surrounding the creative industries?

Creative industries are a growth sector, and today many young people understand that technology is driving growth in the creative industries, alongside content creation. At Ontario Creates, we would encourage young people to look at the new success rates of those filmmakers and musicians choosing to call Ontario home, while their songs, movies, books, magazines and shows reach people across the country and around the globe. There is a huge influx of tech companies moving to Ontario and many of those new job opportunities will segue with these creative sectors.

For instance, in 2018, Ontario’s film and TV sector set another record with $1.9 billion in production volume and 37,000 direct and spin-off jobs.” This was made possible by a labour force that is second to none, world-class facilities, and substantial investment by the Province, and Ontario Creates programs. Another example is the interactive digital media sector. There are 929 IDM companies in Ontario, according to Measuring Success, a 2019 study by Interactive Ontario. In 2017, Ontario’s IDM industry contributed more than $3 billion to Ontario’s GDP and accounted for 22,375 jobs. In 2018, IDM companies in Ontario spent a total of $1.40 billion, including $984 million (70%) on creating IDM products and services. These industries are always looking for new recruits.

What tips do you have for young people who are interested in pursuing a career in the creative industries?

We would advise young people to research post-secondary programs in the many universities, colleges and schools which provide cutting-edge knowledge in the creative industries. We would recommend they get training, find mentors where possible, and contact the trade organizations for their favourite options, to get more specific tips. We would also suggest that students attend our Academy Talks panels, presented by Ontario Creates—to learn some hands-on tips from industry experts.

What does the future for creative industries look like in Canada/Ontario?

There is a very bright future for students in Ontario’s creative sectors, especially the six industries supported by Ontario Creates.

On the film and television front, Ontario is recognized as a top film and television jurisdiction in the world, with many award-winning productions being produced, shot and posted in Ontario. The multiple Oscar-winning THE SHAPE OF WATER, the Emmy-Award-winning THE HANDMAID’S TALE, and the Emmy-nominated SCHITT’S CREEK are all made in Ontario, as are hits SHAZAM!, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and IT : CHAPTER 2. Many productions are made in the GTA, but more and more, there are high-quality jobs growing in the province as well. The Ontario Film Commission works with some 80 regional film commissions around the province, which helps to spread the work around.

This year alone, Ontario Creates has supported 10 films which are programmed at TIFF, including: AMERICAN WOMAN | TIFF Gala Presentations, CASTLE IN THE GROUND | TIFF Contemporary World Cinema, CLIFTON HILL | TIFF Special Presentations, GUEST OF HONOUR | TIFF Special Presentations, ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND | TIFF Opening Night Gala Presentations, TAMMY’S ALWAYS DYING | TIFF Contemporary World Cinema, THE REST OF US | TIFF Discovery, THE SONG OF NAMES | TIFF Gala Presentations, and THIS IS NOT A MOVIE | TIFF Docs

How does Ontario Creates participate in this industry and help provide opportunities in this realm?

Ontario Creates mission is to be a catalyst for economic development in Ontario’s creative industries through investment, promotion and facilitation of innovation and collaboration, both domestically and internationally. As a government agency, we work collaboratively with our private and public sector partners to drive growth—including GDP and employment—in Ontario’s creative industries, including film and television, interactive digital media, music, book publishing and magazine media.

Ontario Film Commission

Ontario Creates manages the Ontario Film Commission, which in turn promotes the province to draw productions to Ontario. The Commission develops and manages critical business relationships with producers, service providers, vendors and stakeholders, including trade associations and other organizations.  The Ontario Film Commission also provides complimentary location scouting and facilitation services to producers considering the province for shooting and post-production. Ontario Creates production consultants take projects from script to screen through the creation of tailored location packages using one of the industry’s most comprehensive location photo libraries, managed in-house by a team of location experts.

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