The seed is being planted to begin to grow the crop of the film industry in the Kootenay region.

A Kootenay Regional Film Sector study is underway — after being awarded $35,000 by the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) — to help attract more of the $3.62 billion that was spent on film-related production in B.C.

With the majority of the film industry dollars spent outside of the Kootenay region the study seeks to understand how to attract some of those dollars and increase production volume in the Kootenays. 

The study will explore the challenges and opportunities of it all, and the possibility of turning vacant spaces into studio spaces, said Kootenay Regional Film commissioner John Wittmayer.

“Attracting film production to the Kootenays means a boost for local hospitality, transportation and tourism businesses, and the hiring of local talent, who often have to travel outside the region for work,” he said in a press release.

The Nelson Civic Theatre Society (NCTS) and Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association (KRTA) are the partners behind the Kootenay Regional Film Commission (KRFC) study, as well as involving further collaboration from Community Futures Central Kootenay (CFCK) to undertake the ETSI-BC-funded study. 

Wittmayer and Ron LeBlanc, Slocan Valley Economic Development coordinator, will partner on the study to:

– investigate opportunities and challenges of attracting motion picture production; 

– establish local industry assets like film studio space and production offices; 

– manage sector development work; 

– devise a transferable film studio model with design and costs; and 

– leverage the study to support infrastructure funding requests to partners like the provincial REDIP program and Columbia Basin Trust. 

The study is expected to be completed by Oct. 15. 

Building on success

The study will build on insights gained by Creative BC’s 2019 BC Motion Picture Industry Below-the-Line Labour Market Study. 

CFCK is involved in the Kootenay project to support the regional film sector, and help diversify the local economy, said LeBlanc. 

“Attracting even one small feature film can bring in significant production dollars, employ local talent, benefit the local economy, and create opportunities in our arts, culture and tech sectors,” he said in a release. 

Last year Wittmayer brought a Hallmark film to Fernie, where $1.4 million was spent with over $900,000 spent on employing local labour — film crew, catering, accommodations and transport. 

Source: Kootenay Regional Film Commission

Two components

Kootenay Film comprises two primary components: the KRFC, established in 2021 and funded by the provincial film commission at Creative BC; and NCTS’ Kootenay Screen-Based Industry (KSBI) initiative, initiated in 2016. 

The Kootenay study will build on the momentum of the previous efforts, said NCTS executive director, Eleanor Stacey. 

“While the KRFC seeks to attract projects, the KSBI fosters opportunities to make living and working in film possible for residents,” she said. “Both share a common goal to ensure that the region has the tools to accommodate film projects of all sizes and designs. This study will tell us if we have the capacity to develop and maintain more capital industry assets in our rural region.” 

Determining the feasibility of establishing local industry assets such as film studio space, production offices and pre-production capability could considerably advance the local film sector’s competitiveness. 

The local crew has always demonstrated a desire for more film infrastructure, said KSBI program manager, Lynn Trinh. 

“This research will be valuable in identifying new opportunities to support local talent wanting to take their projects to the next level, while getting to stay in the Kootenays and grow their careers,” she said. 

Further partners and funders of the project include the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership and the Columbia Basin Trust. 

Source: Kootenay Regional Film Commission

By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 26, 2023 at 03:27

This item reprinted with permission from   The Nelson Daily   Nelson, British Columbia
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