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Take a Tour Behind the Movies at TIFF!

Toronto's world class movie making scene

Whether arousing love scenes, destruction and car chases, or memories of years gone by, movies capture our imagination. When you consider the cosmopolitan diversity of Toronto, the cityscapes and film location opportunities, it’s not surprising Toronto is host to the world’s largest public film festival – TIFF or the Toronto International Film Festival. Even larger than Cannes (an invitation-only festival) and third largest theatre venue in the world, Canada’s Hollywood North attracts star-power from all movie genres.

Film location richness

Muddy York Walking toursI had the pleasure to join a press tour showcasing popular Toronto filming locations used in many of our movie blockbusters. Our tour guide, Richard from Muddy York Walking Tours, detailed location after location in Toronto used in well-remembered films. Richard’s wealth of movie knowledge gave us tantalizing insight into Toronto’s hidden gems where full or partial filming has taken place. If you’re planning to visit TIFF, enjoy a behind-the-scenes preview of some the locations you might be viewing on the big screen.

Classic opulence at the Royal York Hotel

Fairmont Royal York HotelThe historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel offers one of the more historically rich locations to film. The hotel opened in 1929, gifting the wealthy of Toronto with an opulent ballroom, magnificent lobby and luxurious suites. Today it’s hand-painted ceilings, the travertine pillars, ornate furnishings and wall hangings and crystal chandeliers make for grand movie shots. The official hotel for visiting royalty, (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has an entire floor prioritized to her) it’s also a favorite of political heads of state and celebrities.

Royal York's great movie locationsAt the Royal York, filming greats such as Helen Mirren shot up the kitchen (truly the size of a 747) in Red, Ron Howard, Renee Zellweger, Russell Crowe played in Cinderella Man, Where the Truth Lies has hosted Maury Chaykin, Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, and Kristin Adams and older faves like the Killing Fields, Serendipity, Chloe, Amelia. More than 20 feature films have been shot on location here.

Historic markets and warehousing

the shops of Kensington MarketKensington Market is a late 1800’s multi-cultural market and community-central marketplace houses fish vendors, meats, fresh produce and cultural treats. Known in the movies notably for location in King of Kensington, Police Academy, Katts and Dog.

Toronto's Distillery DistrictToronto’s Distillery District , established in the 1850’s as distilleries and warehousing, this area was restored and converted into designer boutiques, unique café’s and artisan shops. The original 1800’s Gooderham and Woorts Distillery location and the stone building facades are easily reminiscent of the prohibition era and turn of the century stoneworks. Movie scenes from Chicago, Cinderella Man, The Recruit and X-Men have used this backdrop for movie magic!

Edwardian grandeur

TToronto's historic Elgin Theatreoronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden theatres are a pair of the last surviving Edwardian stacked theatres. Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, the gold gilding, pillars, marble domes, ornate decorative touches follow on design into the old theatre itself. Seven floors above is the Winter Garden Theatre. Both built in the early 1900’s, the Winter Garden was shuttered for 60 years until it was acquired and renovated in the old country garden style. Now restored to its original grandeur, this heritage venue can be seen in Cinderella Man, The Recruit, Bethune, Dead Lawyers and Chicago. The Elgin Theatre also plays host to TIFF movie showings as a sponsor venue.

More of Toronto’s popular movie backdrops

These sites archive a listing of film locations in Toronto:

Muddy York Walking Tours

If you love the movies and a behind-the-scenes pass delivered with a wealth of knowledge, contact Richard at Muddy York Walking Tours for his special insights into the venues and the places the stars come to play. An afternoon walking the streets of Toronto and you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the reason that Toronto’s earned the name of Hollywood North. Check out Richard’s list of Muddy York Walking Tours, follow their Muddy York Walking Tour Facebook page  or feel free to contact Richard directly for tour information. Richard ... thanks for the great insights on the tour!

Whether Toronto or Vancouver, Paris, New York or Hollywood, the magic behind the scenes is just around the corner … it’s all in the angles.

Have you had a chance to visit the location where one of your favorite movies were shot? Where was it (and from what movie)? Tell us about the behind the scenes experience on our GoGirlfriend Facebook page or connect with us on Twitter.

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