This map shows the location of a proposed film studio on Camosun College’s Interurban campus. (Camosun College/Submitted).

This map shows the location of a proposed film studio on Camosun College’s Interurban campus. (Camosun College/Submitted).

Proposed Saanich studio part of a larger push to capture Hollywood dollars

Local film commission set to launch promotional push to attract movie productions

The head of the local film commission welcomes plans to bring a film studio to Saanich.

“The studio is what we need to bring in the big money,” said Kathleen Gilbert, film commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission.

The Greater Victoria area hosted 25 film productions in 2018 that pumped some $21 million in direct spending into the region in what Gilbert has called the commission’s “best year ever” in breaking in its 2015 record.

A film studio, meanwhile, would allow the region to attract productions that could end up spending anywhere between $80 and $200 million, with anywhere between 30 and 60 per cent going towards local spending.

“I will let you do the math,” she said.

RELATED: Camosun College starts feasibility study to reel in new film studio

She made these comments after Camosun College started discussions with Lexi Development Group on the feasibility of building a film studio, sound stage and educational facilities to an area near the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE).

“We’re starting to explore the potential of a film studio in partnership with industry that would complement existing programs, while opening the door to educational programs that support B.C.’s film industry,” Sherri Bell, president of Camosun College, said last month.

Should the project go ahead, the studio would include two sound stages, production facilities and teaching spaces, said Gilbert.

The studio will especially help the region fulfill the need for trained crews, one of the previously identified obstacles to attracting productions, said Gilbert.

“With 25 productions choosing to film in the Capital Region last year and this year looking to be just as busy, we are always struggling to assist producers with local hires,” she said. “Increasing the number of available trained crew will help us in landing more productions.”

The provincial industry generates about $3.4 billion and employs 60,870 people. The region, however, only captures a small fraction of this share, because it lacks the necessary physical infrastructure and personnel.

News of the proposed feasibility will likely play a large part in an event scheduled for Wednesday in which the film commission will launch its ‘We Love Film Too’ campaign on the steps of the Legislature to to promote southern Vancouver Island as a production centre for film and television productions from around the globe. Not that this year has been unproductive.

“This year is shaping up to break last year’s record,” said Gilbert. “[Already] we have had four Front Street television movies including Flip the Romance, Becoming Royal, Last Bridesmaid, Shopping For Love, a Bollywood movie, a local independent film and a feature film, The Boy 2.”

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com


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