News / Vancouver

New investments in studio space show B.C. film is here to stay, says industry

Explosion in worldwide television production provides boost to local film industry, with 4,000 Vancouverites employed by Warner Brothers productions alone

While movies like Deadpool attract a lot of attention, the bread and butter of B.C.'s growing film industry is television production.

The Canadian Press

While movies like Deadpool attract a lot of attention, the bread and butter of B.C.'s growing film industry is television production.

In B.C.’s film industry, there have been ups and there have been downs. Right now, the sector is riding so high that both local companies and Hollywood studios think it’s a good time to invest heavily in building out new production space.

“It’s one of those periods in time, and they don’t happen very often, where you say you know what? We can look out on the horizon, we think it’s going to be good for the next ‘x’ number of years and it promotes additional growth of infrastructure,” said Peter Leitch, president of North Shore Studios, which operates a studio in North Vancouver and another in Burnaby.

“We’re looking to expand one of our existing facilities, which is great, and we are looking at other opportunities.”

Leitch pointed to a new production space in Surrey that has been leased and built out by Skydance Media, the Santa Monica company that produces the Mission Impossible, Star Trek and Jack Reacher movies. That facility (the former Pacific Newspaper Group printing press) officially opened Tuesday, and will be home to a sci-fi show called Altered Carbon which will be on Netflix.

“And there are other facilities on the Surrey-Langley border that are sprouting up,” Leitch said. “Those are good things because we’re spreading the industry out.”

Studio space has been added to downtown Vancouver recently as well: the former Canada Post building is being leased for film production as the building awaits redevelopment.

“It’s very unusual to have a studio downtown in a city,” said Prem Gill, CEO of Creative BC, noting that the former mail sorting station provides ample parking space.

In total, there are currently over 50 purpose-built or converted studios in Metro Vancouver, Gill said.

When feature films like Deadpool are shot in Vancouver, they attract a lot of attention. But much of the activity happening in B.C. is TV work, Gill said, describing Vancouver as a “TV town” that has befitted from an explosion in television production worldwide. In B.C., film has been on the rebound ever since the loonie began dropping against the American dollar in 2014.

Warner Brothers, which is shooting over 10 television shows here (including Supergirl, Supernatural, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash) employs 4,000 people alone, while the entire industry provides 18,000 direct jobs, Gill said.