Hot tips for shooting in a Manitoba winter
How cold is it, exactly?
Let’s tackle the most burning question first! Winter stretches from December 21 to March 21, with peak cold in January and February. Generally speaking, the air temperature ranges between -11°C (13°F) and -20°C (-4°F) and gets colder the further north you go. Working in the cold is a great adventure, but don’t worry, your crew will know exactly how to film outdoors in winter.
When is sunrise/sunset?
Production will also need to account for daylight hours. The shorter winter daylight hours can take people by surprise if they live in the south (we're looking at you, LA!). On Dec 21, the year's darkest day, the sun rises at 8:25 am and sets at 4:30 pm. If you’re looking for night shoots, the early sunset will work in your favour!
Shooting in the north versus the south
Manitoba is split into two regions: south and north. The two regions offer different land features, weather and more. Case in point: filming for The Ice Road took place in the south, on the southwest shores of Lake Winnipeg. Here, snow typically begins to fall in November and accumulates by December. The scenes here were shot in February and March.
The Snow Walker was filmed in Churchill, which is in northern Manitoba. This is where you want to go for rugged, sweeping landscapes, and to capture the northern lights (March is prime for this).
How to dress to film outdoors in winter
It’s essential that your cast and crew be comfortable and safe and to dress for the elements. But don’t worry, MB crews know what they’re doing. In addition to having heated trailers and tents, Craft Service will also keep you comfortable with hot coffee and tea.
Manitobans swear by dressing in layers, which allows one to quickly add and remove clothing to moderate their temperature throughout the day. Your base layer should be long underwear because it offers warmth and wicks sweat from the skin. Add to that a mid layer like fleece, and top it with outerwear that is made for winter. Equally critical are warm socks (think wool and acrylic blends—not cotton), quality insulated boots and a lined hat. If you keep your toes and head warm, you will be comfortable.
For outdoor shoots and winter scenes, it’s tough to beat Manitoba’s incredible variety of urban and rural winter backdrops. You’ll also enjoy a deep sleep after being outdoors all day. This said, shooting in the cold requires some preparation, knowledge and care to keep your equipment functioning and the cast and crew happy.