By Trisha Beausaert
Let’s talk creativity. More explicitly, let’s talk content creation. Shall we go even further? Content creation in London, Ontario. Of the significant industries that London boasts, the Content Creation industry (which includes Digital Media/Information & Communications Technology) is one that is gaining global attention. London is making itself known for content creation in many modalities: Film, television and broadcasting, video game production, web development, print media, and art. With the recent release of Devil Seed, a horror film produced and directed by London-based production company, Matchbox Pictures, the quality and world-class products of content creation companies is expanding the reach of London into the global markets.
Finding itself at the top of itunes Canada downloads, and edging out Hollywood horror blockbuster, Devil Seed’s success is an indication of the quality products London’s creative industries can offer. “The creative industry here is incredible, it’s striving, and it is only getting better,” states Brittany Medeiros, Coordinator of the onEdge (Emerging Digital Gaming Enterprises) Network. “London is starting to make its mark on the creative world, and people are starting to acknowledge it.” With local brands and projects becoming major players on the world stage, London’s creative market is being identified as fresh and accessible.
Gary Elmer, in charge of Production and Development at Matchbox Pictures and producer of Devil Seed, explains that the company has shot television and movies locally, nationally, and internationally. Devil Seed was filmed, edited, and produced entirely in London using a team made up exclusively of London talent. According to Elmer, “London excels at providing a company with everything that is needed on a daily basis for a fraction of the combined costs of a larger center, and the things that it does not have, like specialized equipment, can be brought in as needed.” Elmer also reveals the Devil Seed shoot to be “one of the best shoots [they] have ever been on,” and he maintains that “it is a great business decision to produce here.” When asked about why the production company works out of London, Ontario, Elmer responded: “it has always been a pleasure to shoot in London. The paperwork required to do things is one quarter of what it would be in Toronto. The City departments are agile, friendly, and professional. Local businesses have been extraordinary in their support and we have an excellent base of local talent here.”
The local talent alone is one of the driving forces behind this expanding industry in the city. Two post-secondary institutions, Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario, turn out educated and savvy professionals every year who support the content creator companies established in the city. The London Economic Development Corporation’s Larry MacKinnon, reasons, “having an engaged community breeds growth- having a great college and university builds exceptional talent.” The mix of new talent and reputable business practices elevates the content creation industry as it grows and becomes more advanced and profitable. MacKinnon also notes that “our creative future looks prosperous as London is being embraced by its populace as a creative, cultural city, with independent business groups constantly being created.”
The DIG conference is another example of the increasing prevalence of content creators. Representing game and web development companies across the country, content creators gather in downtown London to present and discuss new products, attitudes, and ideas as the industry continues to evolve. As well, the local students who attend the event have access to school representatives and recruiters, which expands and develops the content creation machine in London even further. Just as Matchbox Picture’s Elmer puts it, “there is freshness . . . here, [in London].”
The low costs associated with producing content here, coupled with sophisticated and innovative talent and access to resources within and just outside the city, all contribute to the high-end nature of the products being generated for global consumption. With studios for every type of content creation imaginable flocking to London, and the success of such companies being recognized internationally, such as Matchbox Pictures’ Devil Seed and Digital Extremes’ entire game portfolio (see DIG’s profile on Digital Extreme’s office space, here), it is indeed a great business decision to produce creative content in the Forest City.