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‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Longing,’ and ‘Witch Mountain’ a boon for Cambridge film industry in 2022

Despite end of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ city confident filming hole will be filled How do you follow up a record-breaking year? By matching it. After the City of Cambridge saw 75 days of filming in 2021 — more than a 250 per cent increase from previous years — it was followed up in 2022 with 72 filming days after staff fielded 55 film inquiries. According to Invest Cambridge, the filming resulted in an economic impact of $863,000.

That financial injection means it was another boon year for the city, as Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” arrived multiple times to film scenes for its final season in downtown Galt and Hespeler, while scenes from a new Richard Gere movie “Longing” brought a throng of onlookers to the Main Street bridge back in October. As well, “Hello Stranger,” starring Jordana Brewster and Simu Liu filmed in March on Blackbridge Road and the Disney Plus TV pilot, “Witch Mountain,” dropped into Galt and Hespeler in November. Murdoch Mysteries,” which is no stranger to the city, also returned for more shooting.

“We’re really happy with our 2022 results, especially coming out of the COVID,” said James Goodram, the city’s director of economic development. Success, he added, can be measured by the number of days of filming, and well as the money spent at city businesses. The economic impact to the community, that’s a real number because one of the things that we do is we actually ask the production companies to provide us with the money that they spent or a budget of the money that they spent within the City of Cambridge,” Goodram explained.

“In some other places they use the production cost and a multiplier effect to show the economic impact. What we’ve tried to do to be conservative here is actually ask the companies, ‘what are you spending within the City of Cambridge,’ things like catering, hotel stays, any rentals, any rental equipment, et cetera. What the city has also been able to capitalize on in recent years, pandemic-time aside, is using all areas to lure productions. While downtown Galt tends to see the most action with its historic look, Forbes Estate has been used for scenes in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and downtown Hespeler was the backdrop for “Witch Mountain.”

In 2021, Preston saw two seasons of the grilling competition “Fire Masters’ filmed for the Food Network. That production alone had an impact of $250,000 to hospitality sector, as well as seeing the crew donate 725 kg of food to the Cambridge Food Bank. In Blair, various productions have shot scenes at Langdon Hall, and the 2003 film “Cold Creek Manor,” with Sharon Stone, Dennis Quaid and Stephen Dorff, and 2010s “Red,” with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman, were shot at Cruickston Park. We’re definitely open for business across the whole community and we market the city as such,” Goodram said.

One production the city could rely on year in and year out since its first season was “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which has become Cambridge’s unofficial claim to fame on the small screen. With it wrapping up its final season, a hole will be left in the city as far as filming. I’m not concerned about that at all,” Goodram said, noting location managers move between productions and treating them well is the key to getting shortlisted for shooting.

“I definitely feel that based on our city staff liaison with these location managers, location scouts and our promotion, that something will definitely come in and take ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ place when it wraps up filming. With 2022 in the books, this year has already started off on the right foot with two days of filming in downtown Galt for the a made-for-TV movie, “Christmas Casanova.” Goodram expects more of the same as the year goes on. We’re actually building a lot of inquiries right now in our film office. So, we’re expecting a really good 2023 as well.”

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