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Victoria film industry thread


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#1 amor de cosmos

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 08:55 AM

Tax policy a horror show for Victoria filmmaking
TV and movie production revenues fall as program excludes region

By MICHAEL D. REID, Times Colonist
March 9, 2009

While movie and TV production spending increased in B.C. in 2008, the capital region's share dropped significantly -- a decline being blamed on its exclusion from a "distant location" tax credit that's steering producers elsewhere.

Production revenues in Greater Victoria last year fell to $7.3 million -- less than half the $15 million generated in 2007, and down from $28 million in 2006.

Overall production spending in B.C., however, exceeded $1.2 billion, an increase of more than $250 million over 2007, according to figures released yesterday by the B.C. Film Commission.

But in Victoria last year, only one major project was filmed -- the $14 million sci-fi miniseries Impact.

"If this goes on much longer it could be the end of the film industry here for us," said Greater Victoria film commissioner Rod Hardy.

The six-per-cent distant location tax credit, which complements another regional labour expenses tax credit, is for producers who film outside the Lower Mainland -- north of Whistler, east of Hope and on Vancouver Island, except Greater Victoria.

The distant location tax credit was created after a 2007 review of tax incentive programs by the Regional Film Commissions Association of British Columbia. It recommended that the B.C. Ministry of Finance implement more tax incentives for filmmakers who shoot outside the Lower Mainland in "distant" locations such as Victoria to help offset additional expenses producers would incur.

"That was our attempt to level the playing field," Hardy said. "We were seeing shows that could shoot in Victoria end up in Langley or Maple Ridge because they don't have to pay to travel crew there. They just show up for work."

Hardy said southern Vancouver Island has been put at a competitive disadvantage because producers cannot get a distant location credit here to offset expenses such as transportation of equipment and crews, per diems and accommodation costs.

He said it's "absurd" that Greater Victoria would be regarded as a "nearby" region since it's nearly impossible for crew members, many from Vancouver, to travel to Victoria and back to the Lower Mainland "studio zone" in a single workday.

The industry has also been affected by a downturn precipitated by the U.S. writers strike, sweetened tax incentives elsewhere, and the threat of a U.S. Screen Actor's Guild strike.

Consequently, the region's support services for movie-making are eroding since crews are leaving to seek work elsewhere.

"You can notice a trend here," Hardy said. "We went from 16 shows [in 2006] to one."

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has written to the ministers of finance and tourism expressing concerns about how the tax credit was imposed, chief executive officer Bruce Carter said.

"We've had assurances they're going to look at it," he said. "The nature of the statistics punctuates the point that if filming is up around B.C. and down in Victoria, there's a problem. And it's relatively easy to fix."

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Bill Bennett was not immediately unavailable for comment.

Recent projects filmed here include 2007's Normal, And She Was, The Egg Factory and Hallmark's Sissy Spacek vehicle Pictures of Hollis Woods. The year before was particularly busy, with production of Cleaverville, Imaginary Playmate, Murder on Spec, Scare Tactics, The Mermaid Chair, The Party Never Stops: Diary of a Binge Drinker and The Last Trimester.

So far this year, the region has attracted one production -- producer Ted Bauman's Stranger With My Face, a thriller starring Catherine Hicks and Alexz Johnson. It's slated to air next fall on Lifetime in the U.S. and Superchannel.

http://www.timescolo...1504/story.html

#2 Rob Randall

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 10:19 AM

So far this year, the region has attracted one production -- producer Ted Bauman's Stranger With My Face, a thriller starring Catherine Hicks and Alexz Johnson. It's slated to air next fall on Lifetime in the U.S. and Superchannel.


I was asked to assist with some set prep on this film by making two wood doors at Camosun College look like old metal doors you would find in a mental hospital. When the director decided to do a long shot down the hallway they realized they couldn't afford to have me alter every door so they apologized and said they'd try to hire me another time.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

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#3 Caramia

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 09:00 PM

That was an interesting article. I'll watch for Michael D. Reid's articles in the paper now.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#4 Rob Randall

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 09:06 PM

So far this year, the region has attracted one production -- producer Ted Bauman's Stranger With My Face, a thriller starring Catherine Hicks and Alexz Johnson. It's slated to air next fall on Lifetime in the U.S. and Superchannel.


Victoria seems to be the place to go to shoot Lifetime cable movies. I'm working on their newest on "Sorority Wars."

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#5 Phil McAvity

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 10:05 PM

I was asked to assist with some set prep on this film by making two wood doors at Camosun College look like old metal doors you would find in a mental hospital. When the director decided to do a long shot down the hallway they realized they couldn't afford to have me alter every door so they apologized and said they'd try to hire me another time.


:confused:

Am I the only one that didn't understand this?
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#6 Holden West

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 10:41 PM

Guy in the Sky had a primo crane-shot view of the movie being filmed at St. Ann's the other week.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#7 Rob Randall

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 09:34 PM

I hope some of you saw the movie "Impact" on channel six tonight. You may have seen the scene of NASA headquarters and the curving staircase that reminded you of the one you saw at the last Times Colonist book sale. That's because the former NOW furniture building was the studio for many of the scenes in the film. The lunar surface, ESA headquarters and the Oval Office also were housed in the big building on Douglas Street.

In fact, some remnants of the sets are still there today, including the European Space Agency headquarters on the mezzanine. All that remains of that set is the huge false wall paneled with hardwood veneer. You can tell it's European because those square European light switches are glued on!

Watching it tonight I could see many local sites--the observatory was an obvious choice for filming. I recognized the Legislature hallways in the scenes taking place in the White House.

Incidentally, they didn't have to build the Oval Office set. So many movies are set there they just rent the set, furnishings and all.

It was done by the same company that did "The Sorority Wars", the movie I worked on recently.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#8 Nparker

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 09:47 PM

I am sort of watching IMPACT now. It's not much of a movie, but the local scenes are fun to watch.

#9 mat

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 09:48 PM

That is a VV post that should be archived. Who knew there is a White House Oval Office film set in Victoria?

Don't tell Campbell - he'd be sooo tempted.

#10 Van

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 09:32 AM

I found it funny that the front of Market Square doubled as a street in Paris. A girl I worked with who was an extra in that scene told me that, I kinda laughed because I couldn't really see it. I just remember walking home from work and seeing the big lights, wondering what was going on.

#11 Rob Randall

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 09:53 AM

I found it funny that the front of Market Square doubled as a street in Paris.


Was that for Impact? That street was also used to depict the old west in the film "Harry Tracy, Desperado". In the hands of skilled technicians they could probably make it look like anything.

For "Sorority Wars" they used computer graphics to combine images of various colonial/federal-type Rock Bay mansions into one image. They inserted an image of the Legislature Library in the background looming over the trees and digitally inserted actors in the foreground to create a believable scene of a typical Ivy-League university campus.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#12 Rob Randall

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 07:33 PM

"To Be Fat Like Me" is on Showcase 28 right now. It was filmed in Victoria in 2006 so there's lots of stuff to identify.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#13 Phil McAvity

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 11:48 PM

Rob, getting back to what you said, why would the director ask you to change every door just because he wanted a long shot down a hallway?

I saw "April Fool's Day" years ago after hearing it was filmed in Victoria. I'm almost positive that the mansion out in North Saanich where they filmed most of it in has been on the market for the past few years. For a long time they were asking 18.5 million but recently they dropped the price to 8.9 million. It's still pretty nice.

I think X2 is the only successful movie from here. Most movies that have been shot here have been low budget, straight-to-video duds. It's little wonder too since it used to be cheap to shoot here so all that got shot were cheap movies.
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#14 Jason-L

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 07:56 AM

Victoria's had a bit more than just straight-to-video or tv movies filmed here.

Bird on a Wire, Little Women, X2 and X3 and Excess Baggage come to mind. Admittedly, the heyday would have been in the 90s, but there was a time when we weren't just a low-budget shooting location.

#15 Jill

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 09:35 AM

Am I the only one who has seen "Normal", filmed in early 2007? It's worth watching if, like me, your idea of fun is identifying places in your neighbourhood. The director shot aerial footage over South Oak Bay, and I spent a lot of time watching those bits in slow motion, figuring out which streets and houses were in the frame.

The house they used for "April Fool's Day" is listed with Leslee Farrell and is now just under $7.7 million.

#16 Bob Fugger

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:06 AM

"To Be Fat Like Me" is on Showcase 28 right now. It was filmed in Victoria in 2006 so there's lots of stuff to identify.


That movie was actually filmed in my house. :D

#17 Rob Randall

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:20 AM

Rob, getting back to what you said, why would the director ask you to change every door just because he wanted a long shot down a hallway?


In short, time and money. TV movies are not huge budget operations. As I said, Camosun was substituting for a mental institution. It was thought that the blonde wood doors looked too nice for the scene and that it would be more appropriate if they were metal. The common way to do this is to paint some wallpaper-like material that has a post-it note-type of adhesive on the back. After the shoot you just peel it off and (hopefully!) the surface underneath is undamaged.

I used it to cover up the beautiful arts and crafts wallpaper in this Fairfield house in order to make it look like grimy beige paint for "To Be Fat Like Me".



So they made the decision and gave me a call. Meanwhile, as the director was planning the shoot he decided on doing a long shot down the hallway. They realized that would mean that every wood door would have to be covered which would likely be another expensive day's work. So the shot was deemed more important than the doors and they were left the way they are.

Not to say that this outfit is always cheap. At the end of the Sorority shoot it was determined that a shot of a foot in a door would be useful. A second unit was set up to shoot a couple of seconds of footage. An entire false wall with a door was constructed and painted. In other scenes, costly props were not used.

I think X2 is the only successful movie from here. Most movies that have been shot here have been low budget, straight-to-video duds. It's little wonder too since it used to be cheap to shoot here so all that got shot were cheap movies.


I challenge your concept of "successful". Lifetime network commissions original features and they are written and produced and aired on time and on budget and bring in a profit. So they aren't exactly Kurosawa but they fill a need.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#18 Nparker

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:58 AM

I like to think of TV movies and theatrical releases as two different forms of the same type of art. Like water colour vs oil painting. Whose to say which is better? My preference is for acrylic anyways!

#19 bvconway

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 07:05 AM

Has anyone heard that the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will lead to a decrease in available locations for filming, that this might drive film traffic to Victoria, B.C.?

(I'm asking for a brother, who works in craft services and wondering how the industry is doing now in Victoria in July 2009).

Actually, we should be attracting more crews - lots of stunning locations, old buildings, farmhouses, mountains, ocean, forest, fresh air and such here. Also, a beautiful sunlight, similar to Provence, I guess.

http://www.timescolo...1504/story.html



#20 martini

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 01:25 PM

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has written to the ministers of finance and tourism expressing concerns about how the tax credit was imposed, chief executive officer Bruce Carter said.

"We've had assurances they're going to look at it," he said. "The nature of the statistics punctuates the point that if filming is up around B.C. and down in Victoria, there's a problem. And it's relatively easy to fix."


This is ridiculous. Any update on this?

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