British Columbia

North Hollywood North? Northern B.C. working to bolster local film industry

Filmmakers in northern B.C., are creating relationships and potential film projects at the pop culture convention Northern FanCon.

Film community advocates ask for expert advice at Northern FanCon

Northern FanCon, Prince George, B.C.'s pop culture fan convention, is hosting several workshops and panel discussions to try to encourage filmmakers in the region to work on projects locally. (CBC)

B.C. has become a popular locale for filmmakers in recent years. In particular, the Lower Mainland can be seen as the backdrop for television series like Supergirl, the reboot of The Twilight Zone and the recently released Dennis Quaid thriller The Intruder.

Other parts of the province, however, are vying for a piece of that sweet filmmaking pie.

In particular, Prince George, B.C., is working to strengthen its local film industry. Though the northern city hasn't had any blockbuster films shot in the area for years, independent filmmakers have taken advantage of the region's inexpensive locations for their projects, such as Hello Destroyer and The Doctor's Case.

Norm Coyne, organizer of pop culture fan convention Northern FanCon, said he's used the event to gather momentum within the film community over the past five years.

"We have a filmmaker workshop series that we host each year that's gotten bigger and bigger," he said.

Double Jeopardy, 1999, follows a woman (Ashley Judd) who was wrongfully imprisoned for murder. (Paramount Pictures)

Sara Shaak,an advocate for northern B.C.'s film industry and a guest this year's FanCon, is a producer based in Calgary who was Prince George's first film commissioner in the late 90s.

Shaak brought films like Double Jeopardy, Reindeer Games and Dreamcatcher to the region.

Not only did hosting Hollywood films in northern B.C., increase the region's reputation on an international stage, it helped local businesses thrive.

"A lot of these projects were winter projects, so they were slower times for restaurants and hotels and things like that," Shaak said. "A lot of people were telling me that some of these projects helped them get through a tough winter."

Expert advice

Though Shaak left her role as film commissioner to work in film production, Coyne invited her back for this year's FanCon to maintain that relationship, and pick her brain for rebuilding the local film scene.

"We're very deliberate in the choices of guests that we bring to town," Coyne said.

Along with Shaak, Skye Borgman, cinematographer for the Netflix documentary Abducted in Plain Sight, is scheduled to appear at the convention.

"These folks will be doing workshops but also we're actually working on projects with some of these filmmakers," Coyne said. "We're developing a television series with Skye Borgman."

Coyne said when guests for the convention are chosen, organizers look for filmmakers that may be interested in working on projects locally, to help bolster the local film scene.

With files from Daybreak North

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