It was lights, camera and not a lot of action for Cleveland Avenue shops on one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year.
On Tuesday (Dec. 18), Jacquie Selander's store was empty as film production equipment and people blocked her door. Last Friday (Dec. 14), shops on Cleveland were notified that movie shoots for “Suddenly” would take place between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday and 10 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 19).
Most of the filming was slated at Squamish's community policing office, the Chicago Hair Gallery and Stockhome Design. Crews would also use the vacant parking lot across from The Chieftain, stated a letter from Mongolian Productions Inc.'s location manager.
But when push came to shove, the project dominated sidewalks and several customer parking spots, Selander said.
“This is our busiest time of year,” she said, pointing to her empty store. “This is when we make it or break it.”
Up the street, Xocolatl owner Terri Braun echoed that sentiment. Everyone in the community wants to encourage films in Squamish, but they shouldn't be at the expense of local businesses, she said.
“This is the wrong week and the wrong time,” Braun said.
Monday (Dec. 17) was Lucas Teas' busiest day of the year, owner Matthew Lucas said, adding that last year, customer volume ramped up every day leading up to Christmas. On Tuesday morning, he found a tarp blocking customers from his store. Lucas said he's all for more filming in Squamish, but wants it rolled out with more thought, noting the recent production's timing.
“Squamish is open for business, but don't forget about the little guy,” he said. “People thought that we were closed.”
The film's location manager told Lucas the tea shop may be compensated for the interruption, he noted.
Film productions are a hot topic for council, District of Squamish spokesperson Christina Moore said. This month, Squamish's Economic Development Standing Committee examined how the municipality could entice more pictures to town.
“Suddenly” conducted a poll of affected shops and residents, who signed off on the filming. The snow did force the production to use additional equipment, Moore noted.
“It has morphed a little bit from what was originally described,” she said.
“Suddenly” started filming in Squamish on Dec. 4. The production has visited various locations and had a direct positive economic impact on the community, Moore said.
Municipal staff aim to strike a balance between supporting the overall needs of a production and the needs of those affected, Moore said, noting officials did request the production manager speak with affected shops regarding compensation.
“It’s a balancing act, which certainly presents its challenges,” she added.
Last week, district staff attended a B.C. Film Commission forum to aid municipalities in understanding productions’ needs. In February, the film commission is slated to make a presentation to Squamish council, Moore said.
Squamish’s Inside Edge, a not-for-profit association of knowledge-based industry workers, plans to invite film industry stakeholders and local business to panel discussion on the state of Squamish’s film industry and where it can be improved, Inside Edge director Kerry Brown said. The meeting will take place in third week of January. For more information visit www.meetup.com/Inside-Edge-Knowledge-Association/.