Filming in Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola region has ramped up in 2021.
In a report to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board, TNRD film commissioner Victoria Weller noted that, between 2000 and 2020, there were about five Canadian or U.S. productions that chose to film in downtown Kamloops and in homes in the city, and only for a few days.
These productions included An Unfinished Life, Power Rangers, The A-Team and Van Helsing, season five.
“This year, there have been five productions that filmed their entire feature films in the City of Kamloops and one feature film that filmed throughout the region,” the report stated, noting one feature production was cancelled due to wildfires.
By the end of this year, we will have had seven or more B.C. productions film their entire projects in the region. The CBC limited series Bones of Crows is locking locations in order to film in later September. Their length of stay in the region is has not yet been determined.”
Pandemic remains a problem
The report noted motion picture industry filming during the COVID-19 pandemic is expensive.
“For USA productions, additional crew members are hired to level out ebbs and flows of the crew levels required by the script’s action and plot lines,” the report states,
“As well, it takes longer to film scenes and, consequently, more days to complete a project. That means salaries and rental costs balloon. Episodic television shows are mostly filming in studios in the Lower Mainland and do not wish to travel to the regions to save money. The only exception was The Good Doctor, which filmed in Merritt for a couple of days.”
Productions incur additional costs of regular COVID-19 testing and hiring COVID-19 protocol monitors. For domestic productions, the report stated, COVID-19 means fewer crew members to accomplish the same tasks due to tighter budgets.
“For the most part, B.C. productions and lower budget service productions are moving into the regions to film and want to hire local crew in order to qualify for the distant regional tax credit,” the report states. “They are willing to train local crews. Most of all, they want to get away from the high location and support services’ fees in the Lower Mainland. Consequently, there is a movement towards filming in small cities outside the Lower Mainland.”
A rebrand and relaunch
The TNRD’s communications team collaborated with film commission staff to rebrand and launch the new Film Thompson-Nicola and Live Music! Thompson-Nicola websites.
The online Thompson-Nicola movie map was discontinued due to lack of financial and human resources. In summer 2021, the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission initiated the Thompson-Nicola Motion Picture Study Business Case Study and the report is due in November.
The Northern Development Initiatives Trust provided a $50,000 grant to film and re-photograph key TNRD locations and the project is expected to be completed by year’s end.
In the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission’s section of BC’s Reel Scout locations library, there are 3,903 location folders. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 15 of this year, there have been 575 new locations scouted, processed and uploaded to the library. Most of the locations are houses, apartments, gated communities and businesses such as cafes, restaurants, book stores, bakeries and gift shops.
There are approximately 30 more locations to be added and a total of 1,367 location folders have been modified this year.
From an education perspective, the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission helped secure free online production assistant and craft services courses for eligible TNRD-based students.
The online courses were provided through North Island College and the motion picture industry orientation course was instructed by Weller. Students participated from throughout the TNRD, including from Kamloops, Logan Lake and Merritt.