TORONTO — As Guillermo del Toro’s merman romance “The Shape of Water” swims with the frontrunners this awards season, a Toronto producer who worked on the film is getting a big moment in the spotlight.

J. Miles Dale has been working the red carpet for the Cold War-era fantastical film, which was shot in Hamilton and Toronto and stars Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor who bonds with an amphibian creature (played by Doug Jones) in a secret government facility.

At Saturday’s Producers Guild Awards, Dale stepped onstage with star Richard Jenkins to accept the top trophy — the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures (Del Toro was with his ailing father in Mexico and couldn’t be at the gala).

Here’s a look at Dale, whose other credits include the films “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” and TV’s “The Strain” and “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments”:


Dale grew up largely in Toronto, where he attended Bayview Glen School. According to his biography on the private school’s website, Dale’s British-born father, celebrated jazz musician Jimmy Dale, was a musical director for CBC-TV.

Dale’s father relocated the family to Los Angeles for a period of time in the late ’60s, to work on shows including “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “The Andy Williams Show” and “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.” Bayview Glen says the family then returned to Toronto in the 1970s, where Dale attended Jarvis Collegiate followed by the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia.


With his long and diverse list of credits, it’s easy to see why Dale was the right fit to work on “The Shape of Water, which spans many genres. He got his start as a producer largely in the TV world, with credits including “RoboCop” and “F/X: The Series.” Dale then focused largely on films, with other titles including “Pontypool,” “Love Happens,” “The Vow” and 2013’s “Carrie.”

In 2014, Dale and del Toro launched “The Strain,” a horror drama series that was shot in Toronto. They ended up borrowing some of the sets and other elements from the series to use on “The Shape of Water.”


Dale says one of the big reasons they wanted to shoot “The Shape of Water” in Toronto and Hamilton was because of the ability to use stages from “The Strain.”

“Also we both live here, we like to sleep in our own beds,” Dale told a press conference at September’s Toronto International Film Festival.

“Guillermo, this is his fourth movie here, so he has some people that he likes to work with…. It was lovely and we had a lot of support from the city.”

The sensual film — which also stars Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon — got its awe-inspiring visual effects from Toronto digital studio Mr. X.

Dale admitted it was a challenging shoot, noting they had to reach beyond their means.

“Usually when it’s easy, it’s not always great, and when it’s hard, it can sometimes be great and this is one of those cases where it was hard but wonderful,” Dale said.

Del Toro called Dale “one of the greatest partners I’ve ever had.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press