News / Vancouver

Film commish hired to sell Vancouver to the world

It’s a position common in other major film cities like Los Angeles, New York and Toronto, but one Vancouver has lacked until now

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Zoe Saldana, left, as Uhura and John Cho as Sulu appear in a scene from Star Trek Beyond, which was filmed in Vancouver.

Kimberley French/Paramount Pictures via AP

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Zoe Saldana, left, as Uhura and John Cho as Sulu appear in a scene from Star Trek Beyond, which was filmed in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver is hoping a newly-created film commissioner role will help boost the city’s booming film production, animation and digital effects industry.

“There are many factors that determines where this industry chooses to locate — it truly is a global business that we compete in every day,” said David Shepheard, the city’s new film commissioner.

It’s a role common in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, but one that Vancouver has lacked until now. The local film industry would also like to see a film commissioner for British Columbia as a whole.

Shepheard was formerly head of film commission services for Film London and set up a film commission in Abu Dhabi, which, he said, was subsequently able to attract filming for movie franchises like Star Wars and Fast and Furious.

Representatives from several Vancouver companies said the commissioner role would be a single point of contact that would help coordinate their approach to bringing in more business.

“We’ve all lived through it when there’s a downturn, and it’s tough,” said Glenn Ennis, a stuntman and co-owner of a robotic camera company called Peacemaker Filmworks.

“Knowing there’s someone out there fighting for us to have stability and consistency in the industry is a great feeling to have when you’re an individual performer.”

Generous tax credits and the currently low Canadian dollar are part of Vancouver’s draw, but they’re not the only factors influencing producers and film executives, Shepheard said.

“The key questions that are deal making or deal breaking, factors that producers and production execs face every day are, can I get the support, is there access to studios, is there the right creative look, can I get local talent?” he said.

Vancouver is competing with growing film destinations like Berlin, a city which is benefiting from uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, Shepheard said. Vancouver will be aggressively competing for that “Brexit” business, McKay added. “We’re going to be front and centre in that market,” he said.

Vancouver’s film industry was in the doldrums prior to 2014, when the dollar was high, but has seen explosive growth in the past two years, with 40,000 people directly employed by 1,000 studios and companies, according to the Vancouver Economic Commission. 

David Shepheard, Vancouver's new film comissioner, was formerly head of film commission services for Film London and set up a film commission in Abu Dhabi.

Submitted

David Shepheard, Vancouver's new film comissioner, was formerly head of film commission services for Film London and set up a film commission in Abu Dhabi.

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