What do stories about everything from getaway drivers to infamous cowboy bandits to inter-dimensional portals have in common?
They were all made in Manitoba by some of the most renowned filmmakers and stars in the world — but not without the help of Manitoban film professionals.
For a few decades now, Manitoba has become a movie-making destination for many high-budget Hollywood productions. And while Winnipeg often doubles for American cities like New York, Chicago, or Detroit, rural areas are used for shoots just as often.
(For example, the Amazon Prime special Tales From the Loop turned Morden into 1950s Ohio for a few episodes!)
When productions shoot here, not only do they showcase Manitoba to the world, but they also bring millions of dollars to our economy every year and give our talented Manitoban crew members employment.
Below are some of the major TV series and movies shot all or in-part in Manitoba. You can watch them right now on popular streaming services.
Synopsis: A struggling mother moves to a remote location to have one of her sons treated by a new age healer called The Architect. He builds structures out of branches and places people inside them. She hopes this will cure her son of a brain tumour.
More: Look for lots of shots of rural winter Manitoba.
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent
Writer–Director: Claudia Llosa
Cinematographer: Nicolas Bolduc
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Synopsis: Robert Ford, who’s idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.
More: This 2007 critically-acclaimed drama about the famed outlaw was shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins (who would go on to shoot the Academy Award-winning 1917) with a soundtrack by underground legend Nick Cave.
Look out for the Burton Cummings theatre and beautiful landscape shots of rural Manitoba.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Mary-Louise Parker, Sam Shepard
Writer-Director: Andrew Dominik
Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (1917)
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
More: Look out for a speech delivered in the Burton Cummings Theatre. Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of the title character.
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins, Chris Cooper
Director: Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Foxcatcher)
Writer(s): Dan Futterman
Cinematographer: Adam Kimmel
Channel Zero (2016 – 2018)
Synopsis: A man returns to the hometown he left as a kid when his brother was one of five children murdered in a case that was never solved. Old memories return to the surface when one mother’s child goes missing after mentioning that she had been watching “Candle Cove,” a creepy children’s puppet show he used to watch on public access in the 1980s around the time of his brother’s murder.
It’s actually based on scary viral stories from the internet called “Creepypastas.”
Starring: Amy Forsythe, Brandon Scott
Creator: Nick Antosca
Synopsis: After his wife and injured daughter disappear from the emergency room, a man becomes convinced the hospital is hiding something.
Starring: Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe
Director: Brad Anderson
Writer(s): Alan B. McElroy
Cinematographer: Bjorn Charpentier
Synopsis: Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of underperforming misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way.
More: This film pictures many Winnipeg and Manitoba locals, including Shannon’s pub downtown, an establishing shot over the Arlington Street Bridge, and others. Also, a cameo from the Trailer Park Boys main cast. Like so many others, this film gave Winnipeg performers the chance to be featured in principal roles.
Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer(s): Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg
Cinematographer: Bobby Shore
Heaven is For Real (2014)
Synopsis: A small-town father must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world.
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly
Director: Randall Wallace
Writer(s): Randall Wallace, Christopher Parker
Cinematographer: Dean Semler
Synopsis: A recently widowed detective still grieving over his wife’s death discovers a shocking connection between a serial killing spree and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Zhang Ziyi
Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Writer(s): Dave Callaham
Cinematographer: Eric Broms
How it Ends (2018)
Synopsis: Amid an apocalypse, a man struggles to reach his pregnant wife, who is thousands of miles away.
Starring: Theo James, Forest Whitaker
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Writer(s): Brooks McLaren
Cinematographer: Peter Flinckenberg
JT LeRoy (2018)
Synopsis: A young woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Jim Sturgess
Director: Justin Kelly
Writer(s): Justin Kelly, Savannah Knoop
Cinematographer: Bobby Bukowski
Less Than Kind (2008 – 2013)
Synopsis: 15-year-old Sheldon Blecher is overweight, with a self-destructive driving instructor father and pyromaniac mother who never quite seem to fit into their community. His egotistical failed-actor brother has just returned home and taken up residence in his bedroom after marking the territory. His family business is on its way down the toilet, and under investigation for tax evasion. AND, on top of all this, he lives in Winnipeg.
Starring: Wendel Meldrum, Jess Camacho, Mark McKinney, Maury Chaykin
Created by: Marvin Kaye, Chris Sheasgreen
The Lookout (2007)
Synopsis: Chris is a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank, where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher
Writer-Director: Scott Frank
Cinematographer: Alar Kivilo
New in Town (2009)
Synopsis: A high-powered consultant in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle is sent to New Ulm, Minnesota, to oversee the restructuring of a blue-collar manufacturing plant.
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr., Siobhan Fallon Hogan, J.K. Simmons
Director: Jonas Elmer
Writer(s): Ken Rance, C. Jay Cox
Cinematographer: Chris Seager
Night Hunter (2019)
Synopsis: A weathered Lieutenant, his police force, and a local vigilante are all caught up in a dangerous scheme involving a recently arrested, troubled man who’s linked to years of female abductions and murders.
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Alexandra Daddario, Stanley Tucci
Writer-Director: David Raymond
Cinematographer: Michael Barrett
The Parts You Lose (2019)
Synopsis: After a violent shooting in a small town, a gunman escapes the scene and is on the run. That is until he’s discovered by Wesley, a 10-year-old deaf boy, who decides to help the criminal by hiding him in his family’s abandoned barn. As the police investigation unfolds, the unlikely duo faces a number of close calls, leaving Wesley to ask the question: who is the real enemy?
Starring: Aaron Paul, Scoot McNairy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Director: Christopher Cantwell
Writer(s): Darren Lemke (Gemini Man, Shazam)
Cinematographer: Evans Brown
Reasonable Doubt (2014)
Synopsis: A District Attorney has his life turned upside down when he’s involved in a hit and run and another man is arrested for his crime.
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Samuel L. Jackson, Gloria Reuben
Director: Peter Howitt (Johnny English, Laws of Attraction)
Writer(s): Peter A. Dowling (Flightplan, Black and Blue)
Cinematographer: Brian Pearson
Synopsis: A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.
Starring: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen, Sara Sohn
Director: Aneesh Chaganty (Searching)
Writer(s): Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
Cinematographer: Hillary Fyffe Spera
The Saddest Music in the World (2004)
Synopsis: A musical of sorts set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win the $25,000 prize.
More: Perhaps one of Winnipeg-born and based auteurs Guy Maddin’s best known movies, starring film royalty Isabella Rossellini.
Starring: Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney
Director: Guy Maddin
Writer(s): Kazuo Ishiguro (original screenplay), George Toles
Cinematographer: Luc Montpellier
Shall we Dance (2004)
Synopsis: A workaholic lawyer’s life and marriage take an unexpected twirl when he follows a beautiful woman to a Chicago dance studio and becomes a clandestine ballroom dance competitor. What begins as a romantic comedy soon turns into an exhilarating tale about the unexpected places one finds passion. Based on the original Japanese hit film.
Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon
Director: Peter Chelsom
Writer(s): Masayuki Suo, Audrey Wells
Cinematographer: John de Borman
Tales From the Loop (2020)
Synopsis: Inspired by the wondrous paintings of Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the mind-bending adventures of the people who live above the Loop, a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe – making things previously relegated to science fiction, possible.
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Jonathan Pryce, Paul Schneider, Daniel Zolghadri
Creator: Nathaniel Halpern
We Summon the Darkness
Three best friends embark on a road trip to a heavy-metal show, where they bond with three aspiring musicians and head off to one of the girls’ country home for an after-party. Look out for some gore, action, metal soundtrack, and a twist ending!
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Johnny Knoxville, Amy Forsyth, Keean Johnson
Director: Marc Meyers
Writer: Alan Trezz
FTM is a member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program funded through the Department of Economic Development and Training. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates and partners with members of the film and television industry to identify training needs to support workforce development output.