Most cities want to be discovered by Hollywood North, but Pitt Meadows is feeling overexposed.
Osprey Village was turned into a wintry small town last week, with cottony piles of snow, Christmas decorations on the trees and in windows, and people bustling about in jackets and high boots.
It was a bit like Bill Murray’s Punxsutawney from the classic Groundhog Day. But Osprey Village was transformed to Gilford, on the occasion of its 75th tree lighting ceremony, for the movie The Magic Stocking.
But some businesses and residents in Osprey Village are fed up with living on a movie set, after a busy summer of filming, and have complained to city hall. Staff have placed a moratorium on any more movie production at Osprey Village, and council is tightening up its bylaw, including a “hot spot” designation to limit filming in the village in future.
It was a surprise to some members of city council, given that the film industry is supposed to be an economic driver.
The Vancouver Economic Commission reports the city is the third largest film and TV production centre in North America, home to 30-plus movies and 30-plus TV series every year, as well as hundreds more filming days for commercials and other projects.
Spending on these productions totals more than $2 billion, and creates 34,000 jobs.
What’s more, the spin-offs for communities where filming takes place are said to be as high as $10,000 per day, according to Creative B.C., which promotes the sector. Businesses and property owners can receive $500 to $1,500 per day for filming at their place.
Most cities have tried to get a piece of that, including Maple Ridge. The city has film production liaison Marg Johnson to deal with the industry, and the city bills itself “a film friendly community.”
But some businesses in Osprey Village have mixed feelings toward the movies.
Albert Tia at Osprey Express was hoping that he would be able to sell the actors and production types some of his crepes.
“In fact, it’s no help. They bring their own food,” he said.
He has heard many complaints about parking from residents, customers and businesses, but is neutral about the issue.
Similarly, nobody with the movies is getting a makeover at Slyce Studio, and it is not unusual for clients to call and reschedule their hair appointments because they were unable to find parking.
“It has been a nuisance, because of the parking situation,” said Larissa Dennill.
Her garbage dumpster has been completely filled, and garbage bags left beside it by movie crews.
Sabrina Pozzi at The Posh Pooch was looking forward to crews filming in her doggie daycare business, which she said paid reasonably well.
“I don’t have any real complaints. It gives us exposure, which is a bonus,” she said. “The only complaint I would have is parking, because I hear it from clients. But I wouldn’t want them to stop filming here.”
Other business owners, who wished to remain anonymous so as not to offend potential customers, said the city is effectively shutting down the village for a fee of just $50 per day.
“Peanuts,” one business owner called it.
People can’t drive through, are told to be quiet, and businesses have their customers driven away.
The nuisance, they said, outweighs the potential benefits.
“I don’t want them here at all anymore,” said a business owner.
People on the film set were surprised. The photo, director buying a coffee, predicted he would spend $400 at the coffee shops on Wednesday alone.
He compared Osprey Village to Fort Langley and Steveston, but those two communities are far more busy.
“What they like about the place is the quaintness of it. I could be any small town U.S.A., kind of place,” said Patrick Weir, first assistant director on the “feel good Christmas movie for Hallmark.
He was surprised by the resistance to future filming.
“I don’t think people understand the benefits of us coming here,” said Weir. “Businesses are paid thousands of dollars if we film in their place. If we impact their business, they are paid on top of that.”
He said they abide by noise restrictions and restrictions on when they can film.
“Filming can be very impactful on people, because of sound and the need for quiet, but it’s for a short period of time,” he said.
Backgrounds are also a consideration photographically.
“Yesterday, everyone was dressed in winter clothing, but we had people walking by with shorts and a T-shirt, so you kindly ask those people to hold for a minute. And that’s it.”
Pitt Meadows Coun. David Murray said the benefits of filming in a community are exaggerated, and as a former movie extra, predicted that having the industry there would disappoint.
“They bring their own craft services for food and coffee. I tried to explain that to the last council we had,” he said.
As a business owner, Murray was once shut down by filming, and it would have been a true hardship had his business not had a strong online presence, he said.
“The block it [Osprey Village] off like a movie set,” said Murray. “For $50, it doesn’t seem worth it.”
He said it would be different if major productions showed up. Big movie production companies compensate affected businesses well.
“We don’t seem to be attracting the A-level movies,” he said.
Council has drafted new language for its filming policy and will consult with the community. The new rules will limit parking in Osprey Village by film crews, may restrict how much filming happens there, and will raise the fees the city charges production companies.
While some businesses and residents in Osprey Village would rather see less filming in their small community, the industry has been a boon to Maple Ridge, says city film production liaison Marg Johnson.
Johnson said the city is busier with filming than ever, thanks to two factors: a new production studio on 224th Street, in the former bingo hall, called The Ridge Studios; and the low Canadian dollar gives American companies more purchasing power in Hollywood North.
From July to September, there were 21 productions in Maple Ridge, compared with just 11 during the same quarter last year.
Johnson said the $10,000 per day figure touted by the industry as the financial windfall for communities that host movie productions is no exaggeration.
The owners of film locations are generally paid $500 to $1,500, and an increasing number of residents are registering their properties with city hall for filming.
Crews buy coffee and even have their meals catered by local companies, she said, and they buy lumber, paint and other materials for the construction of their sets.
“They keep businesses happy, and they do try to spread the wealth,” said Johnson.
What’s more, it is a robust employer, and the crews who are employed on these sets are generally people who live in the region, even in Maple Ridge.
• The city keeps a database of properties on file. To have your business or residence included in the database, contact email@example.com or 604-467-7488.
Pitt Meadows filming policy changes:
• hot spot designation;
• film permit application fee rises from $200 to $300;
• municipal facility rental increase from $400 daily to $1,000;
• road and dike usage increase from $50 per block/day to $150;
• requirement of a post-filming questionnaire added to policy, to gauge impacts.