Squamish is set to smash its own box office record.
Last year, the community was the backdrop in a total of 12 movie and TV productions, a figure already reached this year. The flicks included NBC's drama Midnight Sun, staring Julia Stiles.
“We are ahead of the game,” said Kate O'Connell, the District of Squamish's spokesperson.
Three more productions are confirmed for late summer and five scouts are currently checking out the town for upcoming productions.
Filming activity in Squamish has caught the attention of the BC Film Commission. For the second year in a row, the district was selected for a provincial $5,000 grant to help grow the community as a film production destination.
The district is contacting the film industry to determine how to best use the money, O'Connell said. The municipality is asking stakeholders what services are needed and how it can encourage more productions to town, she said.
“We have been doing a lot to make sure they are happy,” O'Connell said.
The district is also implementing a survey of productions filmed in the area. The questionnaire aims to determine how much money the industry pumps into the local economy, O'Connell said, noting the results are expected by the end of the year.
Squamish made its splash in the mega-hit vampire series, Twilight, when it took on the role of Forks, Wash. The community played a key part in the saga, serving as the setting for one of the most anticipated movie scenes of all time — Bella and Edward's wedding.
At the time of the production, district officials estimated the filming injected $1.5 million into Squamish's economy.
Since then, Squamish has been doing “quite nicely” in snagging its share of TV films and Hollywood flicks, BC Film Commissioner Susan Croome said. The area has a lot of different settings to offer, she said, noting recently a film delegation viewed Quest University.
There's also monetary incentives for productions visiting Squamish. Under the British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit, foreign films receive an additional six per cent tax credit on provincial labour expenditures when filming outside of the Lower Mainland. For domestic productions that tax credit doubles.
The upgraded Highway 99, Squamish's natural setting and close proximity to Vancouver has placed it on producers' radars, Peter Leitch, president of North Shore Studios, told The Chief this spring.