Social Media / App

Richmond Hill Film Story Map

Submitted ByCity of Richmond Hill

Purpose of Project (including outcomes)

The Richmond Hill Film Story Map is a free web-based interactive GIS application supporting the film industry and attracting filming to Richmond Hill, enabling an additional revenue stream. The Film Location Resource Guide PDF book developed in 2014 was a predecessor to the newly launched Film Story Map.  This new tool would streamline the location search for film location scouts, while providing all the necessary information and incentives for film crews in one easy-to-navigate free online solution that would be available on all electronic devices. The Film Story Map was developed in-house by Economic Development in cooperation with the GIS team. The final product takes a user from beginning (research) to the end (film permit) of the film process in Richmond Hill. It is a compilation of all currently available locations for filming in Richmond Hill, updated in real time, and searchable anytime and on any all electronic devices.

Effectiveness/Meeting Objectives

The Film Story Map effectiveness lies in saving the City’s staff time in serving film productions, as well as saving time for film professionals when searching for locations; finding out what was filmed in our community; explaining film incentives provided by various levels of government; highlighting film permitting process; or looking for testimonials. There is a unique feature called SHARE YOUR LOCATION where local businesses and residents can upload their location available for filming, thus supporting local businesses and residents and expanding the filming database at the same time. The step of preparing a response for a film client, that used to take hours of research for City’s staff, is now eliminated.

Challenges and Changes Made

The Richmond Hill Film Story Map is the first and only application that combines all of the filming information in one single application, using one single URL, thus being a one-stop solution. The very few solutions developed elsewhere use multiple applications and multiple URLs to provide similar information. The Film Story Map was fully built in-house.

Target Audience (Demographics)

The Film Story Map’s targeted audience is two-tiered. First, the application was developed for film industry professionals to help them support their industry more effectively. Secondly, the public can access the application to learn what was filmed in Richmond Hill. This, by far, is the most effective way of spreading the word about filming in Richmond Hill, as local residents are so excited about what is being filmed in their community, and by them sharing it among their  network and on social media. The public loves the ‘did you know?’ tweets our Economic Development team sends out on regular basis to support the use of the application. The Film Story Map had over 100 engagements on our social media channels within 72 hours of launch, and attracted over 700 unique website visitors within two weeks of launch.

Specific Detail for the Category

The Film Story Map application is updated a few times per year. The updates consist of adding all film productions taking place in the community, as well as any new locations researched by the Economic Development team. In addition, the SHARE YOUR LOCATION feature, where a local business or resident can offer and upload their location for filming, allows to update the application with the new location within 5 business days of a request.


Not only is filming booming in Richmond Hill with productions by Netflix, Amazon, Sony Studios, Sinking Ship, CBC and others returning, but the Film Story Map application reduced staff time to respond to all film location inquiries to almost zero. What used to take an enormous amount of time to research, compile and provide specific information about locations and other information for filming, is now done instantly online, thus streamlining the process within the Film Story Map application.