The Thompson-Nicola Film Commission had a banner year in 2020, with more days spent filming in the region than ever before.
In 2020, the film commission saw $5.9 million spent due to filming across a total of 335 shoot days. That time and money was the result of 14 projects filming in the Thompson-Nicola region.
Those totals compete with 2003, when there were 146 shoot days done, with $6.3 million in direct spending in the region. The economic impact of that spending is estimated by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to be a little more than three times that figure.
On average, the presence of film activity in the region has meant an average of $1.9 million in direct spending and 13 projects each year.
TNFC film commissioner Victoria Weller said the big money in 2003 came from An Unfinished Life, starring Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman.
Weller said that film was the last of the mid-budget productions filmed in the province before all sorts of disruptions swept through the film and television production industry, such as reality TV, the advent of PVR, a writers’ strike and the shift to digital.
Tax credits available in the Lower Mainland, and later for more distant locations, were created and other regions started to benefit, but the Thompson-Nicola region remained location-based.
Now, Weller said, recent activity might indicate another shift.
Part of that shift would be the creation of a local recording studio. Last year, the TNRD signed off on a feasibility study
"You want to land a series, because that's steady, reliable employment, rather than project-based," Weller said of the appeal of a studio.
The TNRD has requested proposals for someone to complete the study, which is to be delivered by Oct. 15.
In the interim, the industry is still growing locally.
Recent and current projects in the region include the film Just Clicked; The Edge of Sleep, a TV series featuring YouTube star Markiplier; a feature film called Death Pursuit, which will film in Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Merritt and possibly Kamloops; and another project film project called Gas Light.
Another film production called The Ringmen is coming in August, about livestock auctioneers who may have to sell their business. In addition, the TV series The Good Doctor wrapped filming in the Merritt area at the beginning of May.
"This is unprecedented for us and we're very, very happy. Our crew database is growing and people are getting experience, so it's all really, really good," Weller said.
That crew database is another TNFC initiative. With producers needing to know who might be available for work, the TNRC is encouraging everyone in the industry to register online at filmthompsonnicola.com.
As productions continue, Weller said, local workers are getting opportunities to build on their experience and get hired further up the ladder.