Video Production Costs in Canada: 
A Comprehensive Guide

Canada has established a reputation as a top international film and television location with world-class facilities in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Smaller centres like Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax are quickly catching up as production and post-production capabilities continue to grow across the country.

What is lesser known in Canada is the broad scale and deep strength of the video production industry in Canada. Smaller, mostly non-entertainment projects like corporate video production, commercial & marketing video production, documentary development and event video production are all growing rapidly to meet an insatiable demand for new video content.  

In this comprehensive guide, we consider video production projects in the $5,000 to $50,000 range. We explain the various components that influence video production costs in Canada and we provide a detailed roadmap to navigate the often complex landscape of Canadian video production.  

Whether you’re looking for a crew for a day shoot in Kelowna, B.C., or developing a series of marketing videos to be developed in Ottawa or Toronto, the purpose of this guide is to help you move your project forward as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.


Video Pre-Production Costs


Funding, Financing and Partnering. 

While funding and financing is generally considered for projects with budgets in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, there may be an opportunity to look for financing or partner opportunities for projects in the tens of thousands of dollars. Telefilm Canada is a Government of Canada Crown corporation whose mission is to promote the film and video industry in Canada. 

As well, each of the 10 provinces in Canada have their own provincial film agency to promote film and video. There may be opportunity to consider commercial productions if your project fits within their unique funding and support criteria. Here is a list of those provincial film and video agencies:

British Columbia






New Brunswick

Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island

Newfoundland Film Commission –

Location Scouting

Whether you’re looking for a European Streetscape (Quebec City), a Modern Metropolis (Toronto), Epic Mountains (Most of BC), Pristine Wilderness (Pretty much all of Canada…) or an Inner City Neighbourhood (Montreal) there are virtually unlimited opportunities for shooting in Canada.

On smaller, local shoots, more intimate backdrops and venues are typically the priority. Do you need a city park, a funky office or a quiet but elegant location for interviews such as a private home? Location scouts know the landscape and have the proper connections to finding the best opportunities.  

Large cities like Ottawa have self-serve customizes location guides where you can view location options and directly book your desired location. There are also similar international tools like to help you discover locations all across Canada.

If your requirements are more specific and you need to hire a location service company you can expect to pay a fee starting between $1,000 and $2,500 for their help in securing your location and managing basic site requirements for you. Fees can be much higher on larger more complex projects.

You’ll also want to budget time to scout the location before the shoot. That means budgeting time for your director and/or DP to visit the location to ensure it is suitable.

Location Manager

You may need to hire a local location manager to help with a variety of pre-production tasks such as travel arrangements, permits and local logistics. You can expect to pay between $750 and $1,500 a day for this service.

Permits & Location Rental

The coordination of permits can be handled by you or by a location manager. The cost of the permits themselves can run between hundreds and thousands of dollars depending on what is required. 

Here are some of the costs you might incur while shooting locally: Filming permits required by the city, filming permits to shoot in a provincial or federal park (this includes permits for shooting with drones) special parking permits, daily rental of a private home, the hourly rental of a coffee shop or business. Rental rates typically run between $500 and $2,000 per day for location rental and permits typically run in the hundreds of dollars.

Another option for shooting is the use of a production studio. Daily rental costs here range between $500 a day for a basic studio to $5,000 a day for a well outfitted studio with a cyclorama and fixed lighting.

Geography, Demography & Weather

Canada is really, really big. I’ve chatted with businesses from different countries who had ambitious plans to shoot in multiple locations across Canada. Many of our ten provinces and three territories are bigger than most countries. Travel infrastructure in Canada is limited to either an expensive flight or a very long drive. 

If you’re shooting in a large urban centre then you can expect all of your costs to be at least 50% greater than if you’re shooting in a smaller town or rural area because the cost of living in our major cities is quite high. Real estate prices in Toronto and Vancouver are now… ridiculous.

Canadian weather varies considerably across the country and as such, you need to account for inclement weather for much of the year. Canadian weather has the capability to stop any production cold 🙂 Cold weather filming presents many challenges – I.e if you’re filming an exterior project in the winter your batteries will last about half as long as normal. Sadly, summer wild fires are now a new ‘contingency’ to be accounted for.

Travel expenses can easily be in the thousands of dollars depending on distance travelled and project requirements.


While Canada is not nearly as litigious as the US, we makes up for it in our insurance requirements. Most locations either private or public will require you to prove that you have adequate insurance coverage. This would start with a minimum of $2,000,000 in liability insurance. Then there might be special riders or coverages over and above general liability – depending on the location and the project.


Talent can be broken down into three broad categories: Actors, Models and Extras. If you need on-camera speaking talent then you will likely be looking for Actors or Presenters. These people are typically members of the ACTRA union and are usually represented by an agent or agency. Daily fees for these people start at around $1,500 and can go much, much higher if you need someone with unique talents or notoriety. 

Models would be hired if you need on-camera talent that don’t have speaking roles. Modelling agencies can provide a variety of gender, race and age options to fit your specific needs. Daily modelling fees in Canada are between $1000 and $2,000 per day. 

And then there is the ‘Extra’ category – this can include hired professionals to act as ‘background people, friends and family of local people with availability, and even random ‘hey, do you want to make $50 bucks for a couple hours of easy work’ stand-ins to make an office look busy or a home look… ‘homey.’ Location managers are ideal in helping with this need because finding these people can be difficult without deep local connections. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 a day for these people (or perhaps just a round of drinks if you’re lucky…)

You may also need to consider the cost of auditions for actors and the cost of meals and transportation for everyone on set.


Language is an important consideration for shooting in Canada that may or may not result in additional costs. About one quarter of Canada speaks French. And while most French speakers speak English you may need either a bilingual location manager or a bilingual assistant to help you in Quebec, New Brunswick and parts of Ontario. 

Storyboard and Script 

If you are managing a project targeting a Canadian audience and you are not supported by a Canadian marketing team then you would likely want to hire a local production company to help you with the nuances of the local market. 

Script writing is the most important part of any video production – if you don’t get this right nothing else matters.

Expect to pay an experienced marketing or video script writer between $800 and $2,500 per day.


Video Production Costs


Video production costs can range from a few thousand dollars for a simple day shoot to tens of thousands of dollars for a large production, and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for broadcast television commercials. 

We created a post that details the costs that can go into the development of a video. As well, we created a video production cost calculator to help you determine a budget based on the level of quality you are looking for in your production.


Somebody has to direct your video. It may be the sole cameraman on the shoot, it may be someone from your marketing department, a creative director from an ad agency, a full time commercial video director or it could be Steven Spielberg. Your budget will determine whether or not you can consider Spielberg.

The role of direction varies considerably. A director might oversee every aspect of the project from pre-production all the way through to post-production. The director could just be a higher gun brought in for the day of the shoot.

Someone has to be responsible for creating and carrying out the vision of your project – for literally ‘directing’ the creation of the video.

In Canada the three typical roles of Director are: 1. Shooter Director – where the D.O.P. doubles as the Director on small and mid-size jobs, 2. Ad agency Director or Creative Director who oversees the video as part of a larger campaign and, 3. Full Time Video Director who has years of experience specializing in video production. 

With the ‘Shooter Director’ you’re basically getting the direction thrown-in for ‘free’. With the agency roll – that cost will be buried somewhere in the line-items of your overall campaign budget. With a full time Video Director day rates typically run between $1,500 and $3,500 a day but can go much higher for Directors with a lot of television commercial experience.

Cameraman (DOP)

Regardless of the size of your film crew one person is going to be responsible for getting the shot right, for making sure the lighting is perfect and to make sure that the framing of the shot support the objectives of your project. That is the Director of Photography (D.O.P. / Cameraman.) On small shoots the DOP is likely your director, sound guy, project manager and crew as well.

Depending on the size of the shoot, the cost for a Cameraman in Canada typically between $1,000 and $2,500 a day, depending on what equipment they are bringing to the project.


Do you need a sound guy? A project manager to help manage logistics? Do you need people to help with lighting and special equipment? In major centres costs for these people range between $50 and $125 per hour depending on the skills and experience required. In smaller towns, if you can find these people, costs are generally 25% – 50% cheaper.


How many camera’s do you need? What motion rigs and lighting are required? Do you need specialized equipment for the project. Do you need a drone for the day? You should budget at least $500 a day for some of this equipment on larger and more complex shoots and you can easily spend in the $1,000’s if the shoot is more complex.

In large centres in Canada it is easy to find whatever gear you might need to rent for a shoot. In smaller towns – you might have difficulty finding the people and the necessary equipment. 

Canada is basically 5 major centres, 5 or 6 mid sized cities and a whole lot of small towns that are a long way away from everything and everyone. This often makes getting specialized gear and talent to remote locations a challenge.



Video Post-Production Costs



If you are developing a video that is targeted at a Canadian audience then you may want a Canadian editor or production company to handle the post-production of your job. Ideally, either someone in your marketing department or your ad agency is overseeing the project if you are not hiring a local Canadian company to mange the entire project.

Editor costs are typically in the $ 800 to $ 2,000 per day range.

Editing Costs

Additional editing costs beyond the editor’s time include charges for narration,  custom graphics, animation, sourcing music and sound effects, stock footage and stock photography. These costs can vary considerable depending on the scope of the project. 

This is the most difficult part of the project to scope because without a storyboard you can’t determine the level of effort. Do you want custom-built support materials for your edit or are you going with stock? Do you need Avatar level animation or basic stock animations? How long is your video – this will determine how many days of effort will be required? How many iterations of edits do you anticipate will be needed? Did everyone approve the storyboard or are you showing your rough cut to senior approvers who have little or no background to this project. (I.e. will the approvals go smoothly and how many rounds of approvals/changes might be needed?)

Editing costs will be in the thousands of dollars on larger projects. How many thousands will be determined by the scope of your project.


Do you need help with your Video Production Project in Canada?

Navigating video production costs in Canada requires a good understanding of the unique elements that go into each stage of video production. With offices in both Eastern and Western Canada, we’ve developed a great deal of experience managing video production projects across the country. Get in touch with us here if you’d like to discuss your next video production here in Canada. 

2 Responses

    1. Editors on smaller features would typically charge a day rate of between $600 and $900 per day depending on their experience and track record.

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