According to Hamilton Economic Development, Hamilton has 9,140 film workers and 901 film businesses, making it the 3rd largest cluster of film businesses in Canada. Hamilton Film Studios (HFS) is more than a part of this industry – they’re essential in keeping the whole system flowing. Partners Zach Zohr, Ken Woychesko, and Graham Purdy define the company as a team of experienced film and television producers whose goal is to support creatives working in Hamilton and to improve its creative industries. Their onsite shop means that the many productions happening in Hamilton have a handy resource for products from top of the line camera bags to gaffer tape. Prior to HFS launching, local productions had to go through the hassle of renting gear from Toronto, or buying, storing, and maintaining their own. Now, gear and location support materials like signs and traffic cones, and tents and heaters, are handily available for rental locally, and at a fair price. Their 5,000 sq ft studio at 400 Wellington Street North is always booked fully booked months in advance, and their space at 64 Hatt Street in Dundas is the dynamic backdrop for a variety of shoots. This comprehensive set of offerings mean HFS is the natural first call for any production happening in Hamilton.
HFS credits Forge and Foster with being flexible in their relationship as the company evolves, consistently checking in to make sure that the company has what it needs to succeed, and making sure they are having a positive experience as a tenant. In addition to their entrepreneurial ambition, HFS is committed to another of Forge and Foster*’s principles: collaboration. An average day has them discussing logistics with location managers, organizing budgets with line producers, shaping visions with directors, and laying out sets with production designers. On the retail side, their shop is stocked with clothes from local designers GIRLSWITHGUNZ, and they sell equipment like Stage Cord from Cancord Inc., manufacturers and global distributors of premium rope and cordage, who just so happen to be based down the street.
Although the partners have decades of experience in the industry, in January 2020, the team is celebrating its first full year in business. More than that, they’re also celebrating the deep relationship they’ve formed with Hamilton. HFS is a member of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and can often be seen at the monthly Business after Business gatherings, and Ken is a proud McMaster University alumnus. Most mornings, you’ll see a box of Grandad’s Donuts on their meeting table, followed by a deli lunch at Bonanza Bakery, and maybe a cold one from Collective Arts to cap off a long day. Their love of Hamilton and their sense of humour shine through in their social media accounts. They say they are seeking to make the industry accessible and welcoming. They’re certainly a welcome addition to Hamilton’s booming film industry.
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