inFilm

FC wants Nanaimo to renew its support for industry
By: infilm on 08/23/11

With a big-budget Hollywood flick set to film in Nanaimo this fall, the Vancouver Island North Film Commission is calling on the city to renew its support of the film sector.

Nanaimo ran a film office for four years until 2006, when the city discontinued funding because there wasn't enough interest from producers to shoot in the area. That's changing, according to film commissioner Joan Miller.

Nearly two years ago a segment of the popular teen vampire series, Twilight, was shot in the Nanaimo area and Foreverland, a film that features Jason Priestley and Juliette Lewis wrapped up last February. Several documentaries and commercials have been shot this year, including one about the Japanese John Wayne who once fished in the region.

The city is becoming increasingly attractive to movie-makers, according to film experts, because of the available tax credits, beach and forest landscapes and a pool of industry professionals. There's also the Madill Equipment site on Labieux Road - a perfect standing studio that many other regions don't have access to.

"There's huge opportunity here, not just for Nanaimo to be viewed by an international audience, but to benefit economically," Miller said. "These film crews will stay at hotels, eat at restaurants and use local rental agencies."

The film commission promotes Vancouver Island communities like Campbell River and the Comox Valley that pay annual dues. Nanaimo is only occasionally mentioned if movie-makers are looking to connect to area resources because it's not currently a member.

Miller said there could be more opportunities if the city renews funding and this latest flick codenamed Autumn Frost and set to shoot this October could be the ticket to changing their minds.

Warner Bro. Pictures is casting for actors this weekend - and movie buffs suspect the movie is actually Superman: Man of Steel, the latest installment in the superhero franchise, although it hasn't been confirmed.

"With another feature back on the ground, we hope Nanaimo will look at having us seriously promote the potential of this city," Miller said. "There could be more of this type of shooting in the future."

The city spent $408,000 on the film office between 2001 and 2006 and gained about $624,000 in economic benefits in 2002 according to the city's economic development office. That number jumped to $2.6 million in 2005.

Coun. Bill Bestwick believes its time to renew funding to the commission and said he's optimistic council will see the benefits with this latest major motion picture.

"The benefits are usually under the radar, but they're there," he said. "These crews can spent 10 to 17 days in our city and if we make it welcoming and easy for them to be here, they could come back."

TCunningham@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4230

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