The northern Vancouver Island region saw a boon of over $4 million thanks to major entertainment productions being filmed in the area, according to the Vancouver Island North Film Commission.
The commission, INFilm, promotes filming in the area encompassing Ladysmith to Cape Scott. During a presentation to the Regional District of Nanaimo board Tuesday, Joan Miller, INFilm commissioner, told directors she spoke with a number of productions this week – Disney’s Descendants 3, Hallmark Channel’s Chesapeake Shores and Paramount Pictures’ live Sonic the Hedgehog movie – and their combined hotel room nights were 15,400 while their hotel stays amounted to over $2 million.
“Their per diem (for food) in this region was over $875,000,” said Miller. “Their location fees were [$1.37 million] and they made charitable donations to the local food banks and soup kitchens.”
There are other productions being filmed in the commission’s coverage area, Miller told the RDN board.
“So far this year, we’ve had 88 leads that required full location packages,” Miller said at the meeting. “We’ve landed 20 of these projects, we’ve completed them. Thirty five feature films, 10 television series, two movies of the week, a miniseries, 15 commercials, eight documentaries, four reality shows, five shorts, two stills and six music videos.”
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Miller said smaller productions, such as commercials and documentaries, were also filmed in the RDN area, including one on whale biologist Cristina Mittermeier that was shot in Nanaimo. A Brita water commercial was filmed in Nanaimo and Ladysmith and B.C. Hydro shot commercials in Bowser.
Miller said 2018 saw the opening of Vancouver Island Film Studios in Parksville. She said INFilm is set to launch in the new year Tricksters and Writers, an indigenous script-writing program, which she told the News Bulletin is a partnership between Women in Film and Television and INFilm.
“We’ve received the funding (from Creative B.C.) We’re going to be working with indigenous professional women writers … around Vancouver Island,” said Miller. “We’re going to be able to support them to start from scratch to tell their cultural stories, help them work through the program, from start to script and then bring in funders, help them pitch their projects. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help them get their stories to the next level and produce and develop them here on the Island.”
At the meeting, Bill McKay, Nanaimo mayor and RDN director, asked Miller what financial support is provided by the accommodation sector, and she said none.
“We have had the accommodation sector wanting to provide support, specifically the fact that they get funding from what’s called their [municipal and regional district tax],” said Miller. “Unfortunately, when we try and work with them, it is written into some form of a policy that goes with the provincial government and that policy is approved and it didn’t allow for them to flow that funding through to us.
“We’re not an event, we weren’t a festival, we weren’t something that they had forecasted previously to signing off on it, but yes, we would love to hope that at some point that it’s being looked at.”