'Hollywood North' heats up in Vancouver thanks to low Canadian dollar
Major Hollywood studios are saving tens of millions of dollars per movie by shooting in Canada
The lower Canadian dollar is keeping the film industry in Vancouver busy with major Hollywood studios heading to Hollywood North to keep costs down by shooting in Canada.
In Vancouver, the film industry is operating at near-capacity with up to 40 big projects including the action movie Deadpool filming in the city last month, says Peter Leitch, president of North Shore Studios. Roughly 127,000 Canadians earn their living in the $6-billion film industry, and 2015 is expected to eclipse that figure.
"The industry is robust. We're seeing a build out of infrastructure, more sound stages are on the drawing board and that's good news for the industry," he said.
Dramatic turnaround from #SaveBCFilm
The boom in production is a big change for a film industry that in 2012 was concerned for its future. Producers complained that B.C. was losing business because tax credits were too low and Canada wasn't competitive anymore.
Now 18 months later, the Save BC Film campaign has disbanded.
"This industry is a dollars and cents industry and one of the biggest drivers right now is the 80 cent dollar," said Garin Josey, vice-president at the production equipment rental company William F. White.
His company is one of the biggest rental houses for production equipment in Canada — and it's growing. The firm is so confident about the future that it had just dropped $20 million on new gear.
"Going into 2014 we had 40 employees, going into 2015 we now have 60, so we have increased by 50 per cent."
Casting director Jackie Lind says the return of big studios has other benefits as well.
"It's good for the economy because when we have a whole crew that comes in," she said. "It's good for everything ... hotels, restaurant ... it builds excitement and employs a lot of people."
Canadian-made productions benefit too
Canadian-produced shows such as Continuum pay a significant portion of their costs in Canadian dollars, so the lower loonie is less of an advantage.
However Simon Barry, executive producer of Continuum, says the shows still benefit from selling the episodes in U.S. currency to foreign distributors
"If we have higher than normal U.S. costs then that hurts us going the way it has with the exchange, but also we can gain on that because some of our revenue comes in U.S. dollars."
With files from Chris Brown