British Columbia’s film industry is making one of its biggest comebacks yet, and Vancouver’s booming visual effects industry is playing a huge role in the revival.
Last weekend at the 87th Academy Awards, two British Columbians were nominated in visual effects categories. Cameron Waldbauer, a Pitt Meadows native, was nominated for his work as special effects supervisor for X-Men: Days of Future Past, and West Van’s Joel Whist was also nominated for his work as the special effects coordinator for Godzilla. Sadly there’s no gold statues on their counter (yet), but the nominations alone are a good reflection of how well the industry is doing in Vancouver. “We do a lot of high tech futuristic films in B.C. — we’ve really brought that up over the years and it really is a destination for that style of film because we do have crew available for those types of films that is almost unparalleled in the world,” comments Waldbauer.
Finance wise, the industry is a far cry from a couple of years ago, when the Canadian dollar was almost on par with the American dollar, pushing work south of the border. But a consistently low loonie coupled with tax incentives helped bring B.C. film back from the brink. Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced in this month’s budget, that the provincial government would extend and enhance the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit. It’s a 17.5% refundable tax credit on eligible salary and wages for companies developing interactive digital media in BC.
Industry watchers say 2015 is shaping up to be another busy year for the province’s film industry. Five sound stages in the lower mainland are already booked solid right through to July. “We’re in pilot season right now which is a usual kind of six weeks of craziness. We have nine different pilots in town which is fantastic. We’re at capacity in terms of our sound stages and our offices and our crews,” says Wayne Bennett, a spokesperson from the Vancouver Film Industry. Hollywood North generates about 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in motion pictures, and employs an estimated 14,000 British Columbians in the digital-media industry. If more work comes to B.C., the spotlight will continue to shine on the province, and that could mean more Oscar nominations in the future.
Below, North Shore Studios President Peter Leitch talks with Global News to talk about the BC Film industry.