The Battle for Hollywood North
The first film shot in Vancouver was called The Ship’s Husband. The year was 1910. Since then, Vancouver has been a destination for film makers. When TV grew in popularity it unveiled a new side to the film industry and doors opened for Canada’s west coast. In 2001, there were 197 productions shot in Vancouver. These were the “golden days” for British Columbia’s films workers as the majority of film crews shooting in BC were locally hired.
A local producer, Christopher Dalton, speaks fondly of Vancouver. “The reason I like shooting in Vancouver is the great depth of experience in crews and studios. Yanks are used to shooting up here and are on the same time zone, allowing many to go home to LA for the weekend, which isn’t as easy from Toronto or Montreal.” The past few years have seen the industry become mostly TV based. TV productions are often very high-budget, and it’s only the major ones, like Smallville and Supernatural, that have stayed in Vancouver. This is because in January of 2013, Premier Christy Clark announced that she would not be increasing any of the B.C. film industry rebates.
Vancouver used to attract productions by having endless studio space. Toronto is a competitive opponent with impressive rebates and their largest studio undertook major expansions. Pinewood Toronto Studios is now Canada’s largest studio. With Vancouver losing the number one spot for studio space in Canada, Hollywood North is not dead; it’s moving east.
It seems there could be a quick fix if the province would invest in the industry and offer competitive tax rebates on every dollar the production spends locally. Until then, we hope the rolling mountains and sparkling ocean will keep productions coming to Canada’s west coast.