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Mark Palumbo: Promoting a music and film industry for Northern Ontario


Mark Palumbo was born in the Sudbury area, earned a degree in pharmacy at the University of Toronto and served as a pharmacist in the Sudbury area for more than 40 years. An amateur musician with an appreciation for the arts and an interest in economic development, he served as a member of the board of directors of the Sudbury Regional Development Corporation. In 1999, Mark founded Music and Film in Motion, a non-profit organization since renamed Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) and dedicated to the promotion of the music and film industries in Northern Ontario.

Since the founding of Music and Film in Motion, Mark tells us there have been 379 films produced in Northern Ontario contributing more than $400 million to the region’s economy. Mark won support from the City of Sudbury, Fednor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to get things going, and credits the latter’s financial incentives, the ease of operating and the variety of urban, industrial and wilderness film locations for the region’s appeal.

Film producers contribute to the economy of Northern Ontario through the rental of hotel rooms, vehicles, film equipment and office space. They hire crew from a CION database, engage supporting actors, and frequent the local restaurants and bars.

Well-known actors who have appeared in films shoots in Northern Ontario include Paul Gross, Andy Garcia, Forest Whitaker, Eva Longoria, Richard Dreyfus, Ryan Reynolds, Christopher Plummer and Ethan Hawke.

A merger of Music and Film in Motion and Cinefest, CION also supports musicians through workshops, lobbying, an online database of acts and musician showcases that folk festival organizers use to hire talent.

The next step, Mark tells us, is the construction of a $35 million, 116,000-square-foot Freshwater Film Studio in Sudbury that will allow for more and bigger productions. Plans for film studios are also in the works for North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie reflecting the exploding demand for content by streaming services and the fact that established film studio space in Toronto is fully booked for the next five years.