The B.C. government announced funding last week for a new pilot project at North Island College (NIC) that will train North Island residents and First Nations to work in the film and TV industry, and meet the growing labour need for locally trained crews in the region.
Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and Minister for Social Development and Social Innovation, made the announcement at North Island College’s First Nations Gathering Place in Campbell River on behalf of Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. Stilwell was joined by representatives from NIC as well as local stakeholders in the film and TV industry, local First Nations and employment organizations, who are partnering in this project.
British Columbia is one of the top centres for screen-production excellence in North America, with a long history of producing award-winning feature films, television series, documentaries and commercials. Vancouver Island is a key destination for producers who are looking for diverse, spectacular scenery, said a government news release.
The purpose of this new pilot project is to provide innovative, short-term training to tradespeople and Aboriginal residents on Vancouver Island, so they can pursue local jobs in the film and TV industry, which, in turn, will provide the industry with the skilled crews it needs for future productions on the Island.
The project will pilot two separate courses, each with classes offered in Port Alberni and Campbell River. The new specialized trades program will help train carpentry and electrical journeypersons and apprentices to work in the film industry in areas such as set construction. The First Nations production assistant program will train First Nations students to work on productions taking place within the region.
The courses are expected to start in late September 2017, with course completion in early spring 2018 so students can be ready to work on productions planning to come to the Island next spring.
The industry and training partners involved in this project also will evaluate the programs, once complete, for possible expansion into other areas of B.C.
“They say timing is everything, and now is the time for the regions of B.C. to take advantage of the current growth in B.C.’s motion picture industry,” said Joan Miller, regional film commissioner, Vancouver Island North Film. “We are working to create job opportunities by offering short-term film training to tradespeople with crossover skills and entry-level film training for First Nations communities whose traditional lands have some of the most attractive and unique filming locations available in B.C.”
“We want to thank Joan Miller for her vision and determination in developing this project for North Island students and communities,” said NIC President John Bowman. “We’re excited about working together to diversify the economy in the North Island region.”
He also thanked Minister Shirley Bond for her continued support. “We appreciate Minister Bond’s vision and commitment to making Labour Market Partnership funds accessible to colleges and creative industries on Vancouver Island,” Bowman said.
• With 297 film and television productions, and direct spending of $2 billion in 2015-16, B.C. is one of the top production centres in North America.
• British Columbia’s motion picture industry supports approximately 25,000 direct and indirect quality jobs that make up a talented, highly experienced and knowledge-driven workforce.
• With over 60 studio facilities and over 2.5 million square feet (230,000 square metres) in stage space, B.C.’s motion picture industry can service over 50 productions at once and accommodate all sizes and types of production.
• Foreign-made series accounted for $790 million in spending in B.C. out of a total $2 billion in production. That compares to $618 million for feature films.
• The industry has a strong balance of international and domestic production activity, with foreign productions accounting for three-quarters of total production spending in B.C.
— Gazette Staff/B.C. gov’t and NIC news releases