B.C.’s film industry is hoping that as the province enters Phase 3 of its restart plan, a booming 2020 won’t end with a cliffhanger.
Creative B.C., a provincial organization that supports a range of creative industries, says TV and film producers are already looking to return to the province and get back on set after productions were suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Productions that were here are looking at coming back, but we’re also getting some calls from new shows, potentially, that were looking at B.C. before this COVID period,” said Creative B.C. CEO Prem Gill.
Gill said producers are calling to find out about conditions here: Is there studio space? Are crews available? And what’s happening with locations?
She added the low rate of transmission of the coronavirus in B.C. is driving a lot of that interest.
‘Hollywood North’s looking pretty good’
Premier John Horgan highlighted the success of B.C. in controlling the spread of the coronavirus compared to California, a famous hub for film production, during a Wednesday news conference.
“Compared to Hollywood, Hollywood North’s looking pretty good,” Horgan said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Phil Klapwyk, business representative for IATSE 891, a union representing 14,500 artists and technicians in the B.C. film industry.
“If I had the choice to shoot in L.A. County right now or Vancouver proper I know where I’d want to be and producers have the same feeling,” Klapwyk said.
“The great work of Dr. Bonnie Henry and all of the citizens of British Columbia in their efforts to flatten the curve make British Columbia a super attractive place to shoot.”
Klapwyk said the suspension of production due to the coronavirus has been devastating for workers in the industry. Some pre- and post-production workers, like accountants and editors, have been able to stay on the job, usually working remotely.
Some workers in the animation sector have also kept their jobs.
Shutdowns must be avoided
Gill and Klapwyk agree the challenge ahead is getting on-set work done safely and in keeping with new safety standards.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, will need to be worn, but other solutions are being considered. Those include re-writing scripts and using different technologies such as cranes to keep camera crews further apart.
“We want to ensure we’re listening to the public health orders,” Gill said. “So that we don’t have to have a large shutdown again and we can continue working in what this new way looks like.”
Klapwyk said he’s hoping the industry will find “some sort of sense of normalcy” by the end of summer although it likely won’t be back to full steam.
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