Christmas movies filmed in B.C. bring millions to local film industry

Love them or hate them, there’s a reason to celebrate Christmas movies in the Lower Mainland.

Crews spend about $10,000 a day using local communities as the backdrop

A still from the Hallmark movie Jingle Around the Clock shot in Vancouver starring Brooke Nevin and Michael Cassidy. (Hallmark/UBCP)

Love them or hate them, there's a reason to celebrate Christmas movies in the Lower Mainland.

That's because many of the sappy, snow-filled flicks on the screen were filmed in British Columbia's backyard, bringing in millions of dollars to the local film industry and the communities used as a backdrop.

A dozen or so Christmas movies were filmed this year in Maple Ridge, including four movies on the Hallmark network. The economic impact in the city is huge. Crews spend about $10,000 a day — and this year, crews shot for 354 days.

"For the most part, it's been very, very good," said Marg Johnson, the city's film production liaison. "It's really put us on the map for sure."

A still from the movie Christmas Joy, which was filmed in Maple Ridge. (The Hallmark Channel/Coastal Clearances )

Revenue from filming is increasing each year, Johnson said, and has doubled in the past few years.

The money coming in stretches beyond just the film industry: the hundreds or more people working on set and beyond spend money at local businesses as well, Johnson said.

Maple Ridge has gotten so busy with filming nearly every day of the calendar year that Johnson has to pick and choose between requests.

"I've actually had to turn away a few productions," she said. "I have to be a little more discerning now."

Fort Langley, Squamish also on screen

Other B.C. locations like Fort Langley and Squamish can also be spotted in the background of several Christmas movies coming out this winter — often covered in snow, despite being filmed earlier in the year.

Creating winter sometimes takes a bit of creativity, said Troy Scott, an assistant director who works on Christmas movies in the Lower Mainland.

The Road to Christmas, starring Jessy Schram and Chad Michael Murray, was shot in Maple Ridge. (The Hallmark Channel)

"We'll go to a plant that deals with packing fish or meat and just get a huge, huge couple truckloads of ice," said Scott.

"We'll use those elements to shovel those things into corners and we'll also blow blurries — it's usually a water-soaked bubble machine."

The weather can be like an extra cast member, Scott said, and it's not always easy to get permits from cities to cover the area in snow.

Ultimately, he said, feel-good movies are worth it.

"With what's happening in the world, people need that kind escape," he said. "It certainly gets us to think about being nice to each other and we all need more of that."

Love them or hate them, there's a reason to celebrate Christmas movies in the Lower Mainland. 7:31

With files from Caroline Chan and The Early Edition