Over the last five years, Jennifer Mathewson's work in film production has taken her to locations across the North. But now it's her turn to draw productions to Sault Ste. Marie as the city's new film, television and digital media coordinator.
Mathewson, who was hired this past July, is eager to put the Sault front and centre in an effort to entice more producers to shoot there.
"I love the city and I love the community, so being able to work at home is nice," she said. "Now I have the position where I can advocate for the community."
A born-and-raised Saultite, Mathewson first studied audio engineering at Recording Arts Canada, but had difficulty finding work in the field after returning home post-graduation. When Sault College introduced the digital film production program to its curriculum in 2013, Mathewson jumped at the chance to expand her training and has been working in the industry ever since.
Though the pursuit of film and TV productions has been a long-time objective for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp., this marks the first time the organization has set a mandate and provided the resources to support a dedicated liaison position.
The move directly correlates to a recommendation outlined in FutureSSM, a report detailing steps the city can take to diversify its economy that was undertaken as a response to the Algoma Steel's ongoing creditor protection process.
In her new role, Mathewson will market the Sault as a film destination while also handling the details associated with individual productions. That could include anything from scouting locations to reserving hotel rooms to arranging transportation for crew members.
But it also means linking up production crews with products and services offered by local businesses. People working on those productions need catering companies to provide food, hotel rooms to stay in, construction crews to build sets, editing suites to edit content, and more. Many local businesses don't even realize the role they could play in the film and TV industry, Mathewson said.
"It's not necessarily that you have to know how to turn on a camera," she said. "But these are all things that build up the film community ... so there's a lot of job opportunities for people."
Mathewson disputes the notion that film is a "come and go" industry lacking long term staying power. The benefit of the sector --measured by the direct and indirect economic spinoffs it creates--is often undervalued, she said....