Squamish Film Commission, anyone?
On Dec. 4, the District of Squamish’s Economic Development Standing Committee talked about lights and cameras and hopefully more action.
Emmy Award-winning costume designer Glenne Campbell and animator Zoe Evamy, who painted background scenery for feature films such as Anastasia and Titan AE, brought an A to Z list of improvements the municipality can make to entice the film industry to town.
Squamish’s natural beauty and proximity to the Lower Mainland makes it ideal for film productions, but the District of Squamish needs to place it on Hollywood’s map, Campbell said.
In recent years, the B.C. film industry’s pockets have been hit hard, but the boom has yet to be fully realized in Squamish, she said. While the province lost its third-place ranking as a major North American film production centre to Ontario last year, Squamish’s economy received a $1.5 million boost from the vampire saga Twilight. As well, last spring, three of five features shot in the Lower Mainland visited 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 recent upgrades to Highway 99 also help, Campbell noted.
But there’s much more the district can do to help grow filming in town, Campbell said. The municipality’s website includes six lines of information to entice productions to the area, followed by six pages of rates and permits, she said.
“It’s not very inviting,” Campbell noted, adding the text should also be offered in different languages.
The municipality could hire or contract an employee to liaise with the industry, she said. The person could help draft a filming policy, attend film industry trade shows and compile a list of experienced crew living in the area, Campbell said.
“There are more and more industry people moving to Squamish,” she said.
Currently, the municipal corporate services department deals with the film industry, said Dan McRae, the district’s economic sustainability corporation.
“This is happening on the corner of the desk of people already,” he said.
Coun. Ted Prior set about creating a group of volunteers within the industry to take on the job of luring Hollywood. So far the Squamish Chamber of Commerce, Inside Edge and various arts groups are on board.
“We have collected names and have created a preliminary list of interested people,” he said, noting the group is not under the district’s umbrella.