'Hollywood is looking': Horgan says B.C. could emerge from COVID-19 as preferred film destination
A film set in Victoria in 2019. (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- B.C. Premier John Horgan says the province's film industry is being cast in a favourable light amid the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
At a news conference Thursday in Vancouver, the premier said U.S. film producers are paying close attention to how B.C. is handling the COVID-19 crisis with an eye to potentially returning to regular production in B.C. faster than elsewhere.
"Hollywood is looking at what we've been doing in British Columbia very favourably," Horgan said.
"They’ve seen that the curve is starting to bend in the right direction, they've seen the programs that we're putting in place and they see an opportunity to return to British Columbia perhaps faster than they will to other parts of North America," he said.
Like most industries in the province and around the world, B.C.'s film industry has been hit hard by work stoppages, travel restrictions and the economic slowdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regional film commissions on Vancouver Island say they are ready to ramp up productions when the rebound comes.
"We continue to field calls from productions who are looking for locations and resources in preparation for future dates," says Joan Miller of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission.
"We are working with productions who were scheduled to film but are now on hold, helping them with the logistics so they can get back to work as soon as possible," she said.
Miller's counterpart at the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, Kathleen Gilbert says members are still working with some Los Angeles-based productions this year and are helping producers plan for post-pandemic filming in the region.
Horgan credited what he calls B.C.'s "competitive advantage" over other film destinations to the work of British Columbians, "not of government," in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections in the province.
"When the opportunity presents itself, British Columbians will step up and our economy will get back to a very healthy position as quickly as we can possibly do it," he said.
Last year, B.C.'s motion picture industry projected close to 13,000 job openings in film over the next decade, according to Creative BC.
The industry group says film and television productions contribute approximately $3.4 billion to the provincial economy annually and employ 60,870 people.