After Hollywood came north to resume production post early 2020 pandemic-era lockdowns, Canada is raising its production game again as a Russian invasion disrupts film and TV location shoots in and around Ukraine.

With cash rebates and a cheap location to double as Paris or Moscow having enticed international filmmakers to Ukraine, Canadian studio operators see North American producers quickly changing plans and likely staying on this side of the Atlantic.

“I feel terrible for the Ukrainian people. Nobody’s shooting anything over there right now,” Paul Bronfman, chairman and CEO of Comweb Corp. and a senior adviser to rental equipment supplier and studio operator William F. White International, told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. Production by major U.S. studios and streamers in Canada had already been gathering pace in early 2022 before Russia’s military action in Eastern Ukraine began this week following months of speculation about a possible conflict in that country.

The Russian attack comes as Ukraine and neighboring Eastern European countries were opening up locations and studio space to the West post-COVID.

Foreign and local film and TV production, crews and VFX houses across Canada are already running at full speed, surpassing pre-shutdown levels. But the Ukraine conflict, with an impact on the ability of foreign producers to tap generous tax incentives in Eastern Europe, is expected to see production go elsewhere internationally, including to Canada.

“Similar to the migration of production we saw coming into Canada over the last two years during COVID, I expect there will be a very clear movement in relocating productions again to similar safe havens. Canada will see a spike in production given the threat currently in Eastern Europe,” said Michael Cerenzie, chairman and CEO of Stratagem Studios, which offers 100,000 square feet of stages in East Toronto.

“Canada competes directly with Eastern Europe as a market for film production, along with other markets such as Australia, Spain and South Africa, which have similar competitive pricing on small to medium budgeted studio films and independents alike, and these too will likely see an influx of production during these uncertain times,” Cerenzie added.

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