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Film Office reports banner year for film and TV production in Kingston

Kingstonist file photo of Kingston Penitentiary.

The Kingston Film Office has reported that 2021 saw the highest level of production in Kingston to date. Filming for the Paramount production, Mayor of Kingstown, represented the largest hosted production in the city, and the series will premier on Paramount Plus later this month.

Since the Kingston Film Office, part of Tourism Kingston, was established in 2018, the city has increasingly become a sought-after location for film and television production, according to a release from the Kingston Film Office. While COVID-19 initially impacted production in Ontario, film and television production has been permitted to operate under COVID-19 safety protocols since summer 2020 and this year saw four major productions filming in the city.

Mayor of Kingstown generated a significant economic impact for the community and broader region. The TV series stars Jeremy Renner, Kyle Chandler, and Dianne Wiest. Kingstonian Hugh Dillon (lead singer, Headstones; Sheriff Donnie Haskell, Yellowstone) is co-creator, executive producer, and a series regular for the TV series.

“Kingston is my hometown. I’ve been focused on film and music my entire life. I’ve been scouting this city for meaningful locations before Taylor Sheridan and I created Mayor of Kingstown. The history, geography and architecture are what make Kingston visually stunning. So much so that I would send Taylor photos; that’s what actually helped us secure the green light from Paramount to shoot here. Bringing it back home has been a lifelong dream,” said Dillon.

According to the Film Office, the economic benefits generated by the Mayor of Kingstown production include: 30+ junior crew jobs; 150+ local background performers; dozens of local suppliers (equipment rentals, cleaners, painters, landscaping, catering, waste management, security, parking, and more); and an estimated direct spend of more than $2,000,000 with local hotels that hosted cast and crew during three separate filming blocks throughout the summer. In late summer, Kingston saw some of the highest occupancy rates in the province (80.45% August; 74.75% September) due in part to Mayor of Kingstown.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to attract and support film and television production in the region, and especially to develop a labour force and industry that resides locally,” said Alex Jansen, Kingston Film Commissioner. “We’ve seen exponential sector growth year over year since our formation, which has been made possible by great partnerships and support across the city. The Mayor of Kingstown production had a tremendous economic impact for our community, which is really gratifying given the impact of COVID-19.”

Kingston Penitentiary, the former maximum-security prison that closed in 2013, is an anchor attraction for TV and film production in the city, providing sought-after architecture used in Mayor of Kingstown and other productions such as DC’s Titans, Murdoch Mysteries, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Reacher, and Alias Grace, the Film Office stated.

“Correctional Service Canada is happy to see Kingston Penitentiary being used while we work through our decommissioning and disposal process. To see this assist our community, particularly during these challenging times, is absolutely wonderful. This would not be possible without the significant efforts and support of the Kingston Film Office, Tourism Kingston, and other City of Kingston staff. This is another example of different groups coming together with the common goal of supporting a healthy community,” said Kevin Snedden, Regional Deputy Commissioner (Ontario), Correctional Service of Canada.

The City of Kingston’s Creative Industries Strategy, which was presented to City Council in April 2021, highlights film, alongside theatre and music, as an industry with the potential to create sustainable growth within the creative industries in Kingston, according to the release. The strategy aims to establish Kingston as a city that fully supports the emerging creative industries ecosystem and where creative businesses and entrepreneurs can live, work, and thrive.

“The creative industries are a great strength in Kingston. The City’s Creative Industries Strategy recognizes the importance of film production and the impressive growth led by the Kingston Film Office. Its potential economic impact, along with the tourism benefits, is substantial,” said Lanie Hurdle, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Kingston.

While Mayor of Kingstown is this year’s largest production, it is not the only production hosted by the Kingston Film Office in 2021. Other notable major productions include Amazon’s Reacher, Peacock’s Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, and CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries.

Mayor of Kingstown premieres Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 on Paramount Plus. View the trailer here.

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