Industry Overview: Filmmaking in Canada

Last Updated: October 27, 2023

Photo by Piotrek Luszczak from Unsplash

The filmmaking industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking. It involves both a creative as well as a business element, and activities including cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre- and post-production, and distribution as well as acting. Vancouver is the third-largest film and TV production centre in North America; according to CreativeBC, the industry brought over $2.4 billion to the provincial economy in 2021, providing over 65,000 jobs. 


Key Takeaways (Industry Status?)

woman watching a film on her tablet


Image by Frank Reppold from Pixabay 

  • Government Rebates: In British Columbia, the Film Production Services Tax Credit and the Motion Picture Tax Credit compose a suite of tax credits for production companies, strengthening Vancouver’s position as a filmmaking destination (Film Incentive BC, CreativeBC, n.d.)

Industry Performance Snapshot 

During 2017-2023:

  • Public funding accounted for over half the industry’s financing; this funding comprised a variety of tax credits, public broadcasting, and investments such as the Canada Media Fund (Film and TV Production in Canada, Shawn McGrath, 2021). 
  • In 2017, then-Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly announced the Creative Canada initiative, to support creators and deliver their content to domestic and international audiences. Its Creative Canada Policy Framework outlined the ways in which cultural industries are important to the Canadian economy and identity, as well as creating a set of principles around which the government of Canada could support these cultural industries (Creative Canada Policy Framework, Government of Canada, 2017).
  • Though COVID-19 slowed job and production growth in the industry, families and individuals sheltering in place desired entertainment. Canada’s quick response to the pandemic and social distancing protocols made it much easier for many halted productions to resume principal photography in summer 2020 (Canada’s Film and Television Industry, Avison Young, 2020). 
  • Digital content presented various opportunities. The ease of manipulation and distribution encouraged companies to set up in-house distribution arms and bypass third-party material producer (Film and TV Production in Canada, Shawn McGrath, 2021). 
  • Media fragmentation became more pronounced than ever, with on-demand streaming services proliferating to create more channels for consumers to choose from than ever before (Film and TV Production in Canada, Shawn McGrath, 2021). 
  • Indigenous Canadians gained better representation on-screen with the Government of Canada’s pledge of $40 million to the Indigenous Screen Office (Canada’s Film and Television Industry, Avison Young, 2020), the establishment of Indigenous film celebrations like Simon Fraser University’s Skoden Film Festival (Skoden Indigenous Film Festival, n.d.), and educational materials such as the Vancouver Cinematheque’s Indigenous Voices study guide (Cinematheque, n.d.)


Industry Outlook

For the period 2023- 2027: 

Business Locations 

Vancouver is the third-largest film production hub in North America, behind Los Angeles and New York City. Over 400 productions are produced annually in the city. Vancouver also ranks as the world’s largest VFX and animation cluster, with more than 100 companies, and boasts the world’s second-largest VR-AR ecosystem (Canada’s Film and Television Industry, Avison Young, 2020). 

Science World in Vancouver overlooking False Creek on a clear, calm day


Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Ontario boasts the largest share of production by province in Canada. The filmmaking industry employs a total of more than 30,000 Torontonians. (Canada’s Film and Television Industry, Avison Young, 2020). 


Industry Trends and Challenges

High Competition and Volatility

With increasing market fragmentation as streaming services continue to produce and serve content to consumers on demand, more players are entering an industry previously low in concentration. This increases competition in this landscape, which may impede some independent filmmakers and producers or those just starting out (Film and TV Production in Canada, Shawn McGrath, 2021). 

Digital Content 

As mentioned above, the ease with which one can manipulate and distribute digital files narrows the market for third-party distributors. The added element of time-shifted viewing similarly poses a challenges to traditional advertisers even while it creates opportunities for consumers (Film and TV Production in Canada, Shawn McGrath, 2021). 

Technological Innovation and Virtual Production

The market for virtual production services, including VFX, is projected to reach a value of $7.19 billion worldwide by 2029. This produces opportunities for the many VR, AR, and VFX companies in Vancouver, positioning the city’s already-robust film industry ahead of the curve (Virtual Production Market, NASDAQ’s OMX News Release Distribution Channel, 2023). 

Cultural Industry Advocacy and Initiatives

Advocates of the creative industry in British Columbia continue to foster the cultural identity of the province and advocate for favorable conditions for cultural industries. For instance, Creative BC’s Creative Equity Roadmap, co-developed with Elevate Inclusion Strategies, educates and trains B.C.’s diverse and equitable workforce (Creative Equity Roadmap, Creative BC, n.d.).


Canada’s Film and Television Industry. (n.d.). Avison Young. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from 

Creative Canada Policy Framework. (2017). Government of Canada. 

Creative Equity Roadmap. (n.d.) CreativeBC. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from 

McGrath, S. (2021, November). Movie, TV & Video Production in Canada. CANADA INDUSTRY (NAICS) REPORT 51211CA / INFORMATION IN CANADA. Retrieved from IBISWorld database.

Film Incentives BC. (n.d.). Creative BC. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from 

Indigenous Voices Study Guide. (n.d.). Cinematheque. Retrieved from 

Skoden Indigenous Film Festival. (n.d). Simon Fraser University. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from 

Submissions: Consultation on how to implement Canada's CUSMA commitment to extend the general term of copyright protection. (2021, March 26). Government of Canada. 

The film and episodic VFX market to create over $5 billion opportunity globally; adoption of AR & VR technology booming in the market. (2023, Mar 01). PR Newswire. Retrieved from ABI/INFORM database.  

Virtual production market size worth USD 7.19 billion by 2029 | report by Fortune Business Insights: According to Fortune Business Insights, the global virtual production market size is projected to reach USD 7.19 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 14.1% during the forecast period, 2022-2029. (2023, Jan 16). NASDAQ OMX's News Release Distribution Channel. Retrieved from ABI/INFORM database. 


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