It’s been a big year for film on the North Island.
Delegates from Vancouver Island North Film Commission, known as INFilm, attended the Regional District meeting on Sept. 19 to provide an update on their projects from the last year.
INFilm Film Commissioner, Joan Miller, and Board President Stephanie Tipple spoke about the success of the film industry in the province and the employment opportunities for the North Island.
“It’s been a big year for our region for the vision that we have expanding opportunities for film and television,” said Miller, adding “Chesapeake Shores is a big one for us, landing a television series that filmed three months this year and four months last year and hopefully the numbers are good so that we are back for a third season next year.”
Chesapeake Shores is a Hallmark television series filmed in Qualicum Beach and Parksville.
Miller also mentioned the success of History channel’s Alone. “It’s a great example of something that can happen to take advantage of opportunities in a rural region, and it really opens the world to see these amazing locations that we have and what great communities that we have in our area.”
The first, second and fourth seasons of Alone were filmed on the North Island, with the third being filmed in Patagonia.
Miller added filming a series for months at a time gives us “the opportunity to kick-start the training programs that we have wanted to do in our region.”
She said although they are seeing more productions spreading throughout the region, the barrier for longer-term projects to film here is a lack of local crew.
“We were very sensitive to the fact that we didn’t want to try and encourage people to take film schools and invest a lot of money into film schools when we couldn’t guarantee them full time work,” said Miller.
INFilm then approached North Island College to develop entry level training so people who had a base skill in some other resource sector could transfer into the film sector.
With a $500,000 investment from the province, they developed a pilot program with North Island College to offer a three to four week full time course for TV and film crew training.
In order to take the courses, Miller said someone must have basic entry into or experience with a trade. “I remember being told by a director he could crew off of people who work on a fish boat or in the forest sector because they have skills you can’t teach in a college,” she said.
The four instructors include someone from set construction, grip, lighting, and locations, all who have about 20 year experience and live on Vancouver Island. “They are people that have to hire all these people and understand the issues about the shortage of crew right now,” said Miller.
She said she hopes the courses will create a bigger pool of locals to supply work for more film productions.
While the course is offered through North Island College in Campbell River and Port Aleberni, Miller said they were in the area to do interviews with people from the North Island that were applying for the course.
“We hope to have projects coming in behind where they can get the work experience,” said Miller, adding “it’s been a game changer for us.”