New Okanagan film studio hopes to draw more business to Interior
Tim Bieber has transformed a vacant clothing factory near Vernon into a 50,000 square foot studio
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He built it — now an Okanagan entrepreneur hopes they will come.
“A lot of the locations that these films are looking for are not just the urban environment of downtown Vancouver,” said Tim Bieber, an entrepreneur who recently opened what he calls the Okanagan’s first full-service film studio.
“They’re looking to get out into mountains, into wilderness and small towns."
With financing from an investor in Vancouver, Bieber transformed a vacant clothing factory near Vernon into a 50,000 square foot space with multiple sound stage and offices. He hopes to capture the overflow from Vancouver’s booming film industry, where competition for production space and film crews can be intense.
Films like Blackway, starring Anthony Hopkins and Julia Stiles, and the Disney movie Tomorrowland are examples of movies that have filmed in the Okanagan, but small and medium-sized productions tend to be the “bread and butter” of the local industry, Bieber said. In the future, he plans to open two more studios near Kelowna and in the south Okanagan.
“I think 2016 is going to be another record-breaking year, breaking 2015 in terms of the number of productions coming to Vancouver,” Bieber said. “It’s just really difficult for a market like that, as big as Vancouver is and as many sound stages as it has, to sustain that growth and continue to grow at that pace.”
Extra provincial tax credits are available for companies that shoot outside of Vancouver, and Bieber says that because his studio is in a repurposed building, he’ll be able to offer cheaper rates to companies. He also points out that accommodation and food services tend to be cheaper outside of the Lower Mainland.
Because of the high cost of housing in Vancouver, some experienced film crews have moved to smaller cities like Kelowna or Victoria. They often have to commute back to the Lower Mainland to work on larger productions, Bieber said, but he hopes that by drawing more productions to the Okanagan there will be more local work for those crews.