Build it and they will film: Saanich studio could break ground by summer
Is it all just smoke and mirrors, or is a permanent film studio actually coming to the Capital Region?
According to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, there are no camera tricks when he says work on a studio could be the summer's big blockbuster.
"I hope before summer we'll be breaking ground on a film studio in Saanich,” Haynes told CTV News.
Before he was elected last fall, Haynes campaigned on a platform of economic diversification and specifically mentioned building a dedicated film studio.
"The ingredients would be two or three sound stages, plus a production centre, plus some offices," said Haynes. "It would come in at around $30 million."
Haynes said staff have zeroed in on three or four different prospective locations, but cannot divulge any details because it could sour a possible deal.
Saanich also claims financial investors, which could launch a project of this magnitude, are in play. Again, exact details have not been given.
If this script sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In 2016 a U.S.-based investor came close to securing space for a film studio in Esquimalt, but the deal fizzled because of complications with the location and cost.
But the time to take action is now as demand from streaming content providers like Netflix booms, according to the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission.
"I've been down to L.A. twice last year. Both times Netflix, several other of the big studios, Amazon, they're all looking for studio space right now," said film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert. "This is the best time that I've ever seen in terms of probably having a client as soon as we open our doors."