How many times have you been watching a movie and thought to yourself “hey, that looks like a spot in Hamilton?”
Chances are you’re not just seeing things. Hamilton is a total hotspot for film and television productions of all kinds, and the film industry is only continuing to grow in the city, with projects going to camera all over Hamilton on a constant basis. Forthcoming developments, including the massive and game-changing Aeon Studios on the Barton-Tiffany Lands, are only going to keep pushing Hamilton’s film industry to the next booming level.
From tiny indie features to major blockbusters and Oscar winners, Hamilton has many successful films to its name; some you may not have even realized were filmed in the Hammer.
Here’s a list of a few notable ones.
The Shape of Water
Acclaimed Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro has sung Hamilton’s praises countless times, and his love for the city is clear with the growing number of movies he’s shot here in town. The Shape of Water, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2018, is one of the most prominent projects.
Part creature feature and part romance, this bizarre and beautiful film stars actors like Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer who are featured in a variety of Hamilton locations including City Hall, the Lakeshore Sand Company, and an apartment building at 181 MacNab St. South.
Hamilton is full of promise and surprises: great bookstores, Antique shops, coffee shops, restaurants and art stores. Crimson Peak land.
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) October 17, 2016
The hit Broadway musical based on the 1988 John Waters movie was itself adapted into a movie in 2007, featuring an all-star cast including newcomer Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, James Marsden, and Amanda Bynes.
Though the bouncy, campy, tuneful movie is set in Baltimore, Toronto and Hamilton were used as stand-ins during production, with the interior of the Hammer’s old Queen Victoria School used throughout.
A gritty, darkly funny, subversive sort of superhero flick, 2010’s Kick-Ass is loaded with deliciously prominent shots of the Hammer.
Starring notable actors like Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, and a young Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass was filmed at a variety of instantly recognizable Hamilton locations including Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, the parking lot behind Capri Restaurant, Mary Street at King Street East, and a house at 32 Keith Street.
Another Guillermo del Toro film makes the list, and this one blends ghostly horrors with gothic romance in its Victorian-era England setting with a cast including Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Mia Wasikowska.
Despite the distant setting and the fact that much of the film was shot on sound stages, some of Crimson Peak was also filmed on location in Hamilton, with notable appearances from period-appropriate historical spots such as the Scottish Rite Club and the outdoor space around the city’s famous Dundurn Castle.
— Carrie Destler (@CarrieDestler) October 29, 2015
This terrific indie feature is one title on the list that may not be as familiar; but it is noteworthy not just for being shot in Hamilton, but taking place here too.
White Lie, an acclaimed drama-thriller that had its premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, follows a young McMaster University student as she fakes a cancer diagnosis for financial and social gain; a ruse that quickly starts to spin well out of control.
Tense and angering and thought-provoking, this film has Hamilton written all over it, with can’t-miss shots of Mohawk College, the HSR, View Magazine, the city’s Gibson neighbourhood, and stretches of Burlington Street.
This riveting biographical drama about the Boston Globe’s real-life investigation of systemic child sexual abuse in the Catholic church won the Academy Award for Best Picture – the second film on this list to do so – and features a powerhouse ensemble cast of Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci.
Though much of the production took place on location in Boston, filming also moved here to Hamilton at spots like McMaster University, 51 Aberdeen Avenue, and Prince’s Square at Main Street East across from the John Sopinka Courthouse.
Do you have any favourite Hamilton-shot movies? Let us know in the comments!