Monday, January 14, 2013

Save BC Film

There's a new grass roots movement afoot. Save BC Film. And it is trending everywhere in British Columbia. 
It is an action that grew out of the frustration of people who work in the BC Film industry seeing their livelihood filter away to Toronto or wherever the producers have taken their money for new projects.

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At one point, just a few years ago, our BC film industry brought in a billion dollars to BC. It was thriving with perhaps 10 or 15 feature films shooting, sometimes 20 TV shows, and commercials shooting everywhere. Most Movie-of-the-Week shows were made here. The worry from producers was that they couldn't get studio space to shoot in! There were warehouses everywhere, doubling as movie sets. Lots of BC actors got their start with a one liner beside a famous Hollywood star! Extras were crammed into the Orpheum theater or a barn in the Fraser Valley or taking part in an action scene on our streets! The list is way too long to add the films and TV shows made here, but they are in the thousands! And we had more than our share of those highly paid commercials done here too.

Vancouver people were tolerant of the intrusion of movie trailers and on-location sets and policemen directing traffic because a show was shooting! The biggest stars were glimpsed on our streets! 
Now we have a crisis! Because of a neglect by our BC Government, which has paid little interest or respect to the BC film business. 
It should be the standard that a provincial government strongly and continually promotes an industry that has reached one billion dollars a year in the past! An industry that does not pollute nor damage the environment, employs thousands of well paid, skilled people, and is totally renewable! A movie, TV show or commercial can pump millions of dollars into our economy, through renting studios, equipment, locations, and PAYING all those workers who in turn pay taxes back into the province!

So what are the advantages of filming a project in BC over other areas? 
  • We are three hours north of Hollywood on one flight. In the same timezone! We have had movie stars fly in here for their scene, and be home again for dinner!
  • We have the climate for year-round shooting! No endless snow or freezing weather unless a production wants it, then within a half day it is available.
  • We have the locations. Vancouver area has doubled for most of the cities in North America and some in Europe. And our Interior can be a complete wild mountain wilderness when needed, a rolling cowboy country, or a ghost town from the past.
  • We have the expertise! There are any number of animation, CGI, film companies and studios. All with the skills and talents to make any project presented to them. And crews that operate anything needed and can stand with any production in the world.
  • We have the talent. There are acting classes everywhere, and accomplished BC actors with great credits are always available. And lots of extras for any crowd scene. And we have casting agents here who know this talent and can provide it always.
  • Hollywood loves Vancouver, we have all the conveniences and distractions for relaxing after shooting. Where else can you swim in the morning and ski in the afternoon? And Vancouver people are famous for letting famous people alone to enjoy their leisure time. 
  • And an intangible?  To most of us perhaps, but not to a keen film-makers eye. We have that wonderful Vancouver light! Always amazing to a cinematographer. Moody and dramatic, or hopeful and bright. Never flat and careless. 
What we need is for our BC government to jealously guard the film business here, and strive to realize it's potential. To go after those new projects and grab them away from others. By ignoring the film business, the BC Government is saying we don't matter. 
All it takes is to match tax breaks from elsewhere in Canada. It can be done. The rewards for the community are far too great to be ignored. And we are too proud of our past accomplishments in movies and TV to let it go. If someone else can do it, WE can do it better!

We needn't stick it TO Hollywood, we need to stick WITH Hollywood, we'll get the taxes back when all those film people in BC cash their checks. We have a grand reputation to uphold as the real Hollywood North, and we cannot let an indifferent government destroy it for us.

 Be heard, sign the petition   -   SAVE_BC_FILM