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On set in Squamish

Local actress Emma Pedersen one of many Squamish residents involved in film and TV productions
Emma Pedersen of Squamish who is making a living in the film and TV industry. She will be in town shooting a Hallmark movie in May.

From casting directors to actors to extras and every production job in between, Squamish residents are making a living in the film industry. 

Squamish residents earned more than $2 million in gross pay in 2014 from film and TV productions, according to the district. Approximately 60 people are currently on a list of available production staff in the district, but district staff says that number is likely conservative.

Stawamus Elementary and Howe Sound Secondary School alumna Emma Pedersen is one such Squamish resident making film and TV work a career. She will have a lead role in Signed, Sealed, Delivered, a Hallmark movie of the week shooting in downtown Squamish and Britannia Beach in May. 

“It is a series of TV movies that Hallmark has made,” Pedersen said by phone while she was awaiting an audition for a commercial in Vancouver. “It is after Signed, Sealed, Delivered the TV show was such a success. It is good.”

For confidentiality reasons, Pedersen said she couldn’t discuss details about the show, other than that her character’s name is Nicky.

After graduating from high school, where Pedersen performed in several local theatre productions at Eagle Eye Theatre, she attended the musical theatre program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. When she graduated from college, she decided to try her hand at TV and film. 

She has since had roles in the Toronto-based TV shows Murdoch Mysteries, Suits, Killjoys and the movie Life with Robert Pattinson that was released a few months ago. 

In Life, she played a secretary and had a speaking scene with Pattinson on the set in Toronto.

“That was pretty good,” she said.

Working as an actress, Pedersen said she needs to be ready for the unexpected as opportunities can come out of the blue.

“It is a very last-minute, running-around kind of business, which is what I love about it,” she said. 

“Last night I was at an acting class and then at 8:30, I got an email from my agent saying that I had a commercial audition today, and then just this morning, I got a call saying I have to do a self-tape for another movie out of Montreal that has to be done in the next three days.” 

A self-tape is an audition a performer records of themselves.

Pedersen’s advice for young aspiring performers is to stay active honing their craft. During her youth, “I did choir and I did private voice lessons and dance classes,” she said, but added that unlike when she was starting out, talented performers can now create and showcase their own work online with a website and YouTube videos. “So you constantly have something to do instead of sitting around waiting for the next production to happen,” she said. 

“It keeps you active and having another goal on the horizon.”  

The Hallmark movie will be her first locally shot production, she said. 

It joins several productions shot in the district already this year. By the end of March, 11 productions had shot in Squamish, compared with five in the same timeframe in 2015, according to district staff.

“It is awesome. I love when I get to come home and really visit my family,” Pedersen said of working in her hometown. 

“I see all of the call-sign arrows everywhere. Me and my mom try to guess what production it is.” 

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