Lights, camera, influx of money! The local film industry brings in nearly $55 million

Movie trucks line a Rockland street this week as Victoria’s famous Craigdarroch Castle plays a starring role in Disney’s new movie ‘Under Wraps 2’.

“I saw zombies going by,” a lady told CHEK News. “I don’t mind walking an extra block or two to my car to make room for the movies. It’s part of our economy.

It’s been the lights, the camera, the influx of money since COVID as the local film industry sees an unprecedented number of productions filming on the South Island.

“We had three feature films and 13 TV movies last year — it’s amazing,” says Kathleen Gilbert, film commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission. “As well as nine other television series, so that’s a lot of shows across our little town here and employs hundreds and hundreds of people.”

This resulted in a direct spend of $54.6 million last year and $55 million in 2020, making the past two years the best the South Island has ever seen.

“I think film and TV have done really well during COVID,” Gilbert says. “People are at home, they want more products, they want to watch TV, they want to be entertained, they want to change their minds.

The booming industry keeps Island casting directors very busy.

“Incredibly busy, yes!” says Jacqui Kaese, who is based in Nanaimo. “Much busier than we ever expected, so it’s been non-stop.”

And they expect this year to be just as good.

“We’re safe, I think we’re following protocols to the letter through COVID, I think we have unknown talents and places and that’s why we’re becoming more and more attractive,” Kaese explains.

That’s a far cry from the three or four TV movies a year the region received and direct spending of just $6 million in 2010.

“Going from $6 million to $55 million in 10 years is incredible for this industry,” says Gilbert.

Filming is taking place in Bastion Square in downtown Victoria in August 2020. Since the start of the pandemic, a filming boom has taken place on Vancouver Island. (CHEK News)

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