Why some of Manitoba Hydro’s buildings make it into movies

A film clapperboard for the movie “Elevator Game” sits on a camera bag.

Providing Energy for Life means supporting our local economy and growth in the province. That often means upgrading equipment and planning for future growth, but it also means supporting industries that create jobs in Manitoba – like the film industry.

It’s an action movie with an unlikely star: Bob Odenkirk, recently showered with praise for his dramatic performance in Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, still hits all the right action-movie notes. There are car chases, meticulously choreographed fight scenes, and epic shootouts — this is a film that would feel right at home in the John Wick universe.

The film is Nobody — a high-octane action movie filmed in Winnipeg in 2019 — and some of the shots in its factory last-stand firefight sequence were shot at 820 Taylor Avenue, the former head office of Manitoba Hydro.

It wasn’t the only movie, or show, shot at one of our locations.

As the film industry in Manitoba heats up again post-pandemic, a diverse range of productions, from local to Hollywood, are being filmed in current and former Manitoba Hydro facilities. The utility owns a warehouse building in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District that has become a hotspot for filming. The Elevator Game production (see video above) spent about $20,000 on permanent bathroom, plumbing, wiring, and internet-related upgrades, among others, and now 55 Princess Avenue — a former utility-owned appliance store in the early days of electrification — is now in high demand.

“There’s been times where it’s almost been double-booked,” said Jackie Britton, who handled the interface with production companies prior to retiring in December 2022. “You have to be very careful in the scheduling, because one production is going in and another is going out.”

Because the bulk of the rental fees go to charities, our Community Investment team coordinates with location scouts.

A man laughs while being interviewed on camera.

A documentary about Trevor Oulette in our System Control department filming at 360 Portage in June 2020. This is just one example of a production company using Hydro HQ as a film setting.

Enlarge image: A man laughs while being interviewed on camera.

Jackie no longer handles coordinating filming requests. After a long career at Manitoba Hydro, including organizing events year after year, Jackie retired in mid-January. But the show must go on.

Rena Journault has taken the reigns as one of Hydro’s new community investment specialists.

A vintage elevator at the end of a hallway.

An elevator set, built inside 55 Princess Ave., for the upcoming horror movie Elevator Game.

Enlarge image: A vintage elevator at the end of a hallway.

“The film industry in Manitoba is booming and Manitoba Hydro is happy to help however we can.” said Rena. “We’ve been flooded with requests to use our facilities for television and movie sets. This past spring, we were part of a large Hollywood production out of the Brandon Generating Station, which is set for a theatrical release sometime next year.”

Even if it’s pretending to be somewhere or something else, it’s cool to see places you know in big films. According to Rebekah McKendry, the director of Elevator Game, you can expect to see a lot of Winnipeg in the movie — if you’re into horror, of course.

“Winnipeggers are going to recognize a lot of the ‘Peg here,” said Rebekah. “We’re using some sacred restaurants and a lot of exteriors. I have a feeling most of the people in the ‘Peg are going to be able to go ‘hey, that’s Peasant Cookery!’”

And it might not be immediately recognizable, but you can at least know a good portion of the indoor shots — including one where a woman is locked in an elevator shaft — were filmed on Hydro property.

Manitoba Hydro facilities: coming soon to a theatre near you.