British Columbia·Field Reports

Filmmakers in B.C. Interior struggle despite industry boom in Lower Mainland

The film industry in B.C., is booming, but filmmakers outside the Lower Mainland face struggles to make living making films.

Cost, training opportunities make B.C. film industry a challenge outside Lower Mainland

Filmmakers on the set of When I'm Dead, a short film produced in Kamloops, B.C., that was funded by a Telus Storyhive grant. (John Buchanan)

Field Reports is a series of stories told by people in the Kamloops community, who pitched their ideas and produced the radio segments with the help of CBC Radio One. Tune in Tuesdays until the beginning of April on Daybreak Kamloops.

The film industry is booming in Vancouver. Productions like TV's Riverdale and films like Star Trek Beyond and Deadpool made British Columbia the top location for filming in Canada in 2017. 

But in other parts of the province, film can be a challenging industry in which to make a living.

Making a film is an expensive endeavour, primarily because of equipment costs.

Kamloops filmmaker Vesta Giles told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce that specialized equipment is hard to come by in the Interior, so she's had to travel to Vancouver to rent equipment such as cameras and lights.

"I had to rent a cube van and drive down to Vancouver. When I got to Chilliwack, I had to fill up with gas," Giles said. 

"I nearly cried because it was $73 and I hadn't even picked up the equipment yet."

While that might not sound like a lot of money, Giles said that when the budget for a film doesn't cover all the costs, additional purchases become a burden.

Kamloops filmmakers on the set of a music video shot in B.C.'s Interior. (John Buchanan)

Fellow Kamloops filmmaker Cjay Boisclair agrees.

"It is really unfeasible to have that equipment brought up here and to be able to use it you have to add an extra day for travelling on both ends," Boisclair said.

Giles said Vancouver equipment companies have been supportive of Interior filmmakers, offering reduced rental rates.

Another issue concerning funding for films outside the Lower Mainland is the limited amount of money available for local productions.

Not enough trained crew

Finding trained filmmakers in Kamloops has been one challenge when looking to make a film in B.C.'s Interior, according to Giles, but the number of people with film-related skills is going up. 

Filmmakers in Kamloops face unique challenges when it comes to making a living in film, including access to equipment and training. (Vesta Giles)

In January 2018, the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission database had fewer than 60 people in it. Now, there are more than 300 names on that list.

Mastermind Studios, a local production company in Kamloops, recently started running training programs for filmmakers in the Interior, many of which are free or subsidized.

Giles is hopeful the film industry will pick up in Kamloops.

"We all need to work together more and we need to work on doing a better job of recruiting the right people to the right jobs in our area," she said.

"Part of that will come down to marketing, but it's also going to come down to getting more people in Kamloops involved and excited about making movies here."

With files from Vesta Giles and Daybreak Kamloops