A Hallmark Channel movie set in North Carolina was actually shot in part in Maple Ridge.
The Ranch Pub and Grill at the Maple Ride Equi-Sports Centre was used as the family diner for movie of the week, Sweet Carolina.
Sweet Carolina stars Lacey Chabert, Tyler Hines, and Gregory Harrison and is directed by Peter Benson.
The story revolves around a busy advertising executive whose sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident leaving two children behind – and a family in shock.
Josie, played by Chabert, travels back to her home state of North Carolina to help the kids and her family work through the grief, while working to improve their family run diner.
The coach of the high school basketball team, Cooper, played by Hynes, gets involved while coaching the recently orphaned daughter. Josie and Cooper grow close during this time and fall in love. The children accept Josie as their new guardian, as other family issues are also resolved.
A crew was 75 people worked on the production in Maple Ridge, plus a cast of nine people.
There were 28 productions that filmed in Maple Ridge during the first quarter of the year – the highest number since 2016.
Film production liaison for the City of Maple Ridge Marg Johnson explained there are several reasons for the increase.
First of all film production effectively shut down from early March until late June in 2020, said Johnson.
In 2017 there was the threat of a writer’s strike. In 2018, filming simply got off to a slow start with only nine shoot days in January.
And in 2019 more productions were choosing to shoot on Vancouver Island and in the interior as opposed to the Lower Mainland, she said.
Now, noted Johnson, productions are making up for lost time since the COVID shutdown. There is currently so much demand the film office at the city had to hire additional staff to deal with the workload.
There has also been a dramatic increase in permit and licence revenue. During the first quarter of this year the city took in $68,412 in revenue compared to $20,499 during the same period in 2020, $36,883 in 2019, $41,115 in 2018, $39,443 in 2017 and $36,338 in 2016.
More productions are using RCMP for extra safety, explained Johnson, thereby increasing revenue to the City of Maple Ridge.
The economic impact of productions shooting in the city in the first quarter of 2021 was $1.88 million.
This number is now estimated at a minimum of $20,000 per shoot day, not including prep and wrap days – a figure Johnson said is more realistic and is widely used by the industry. Prior to 2020 $10,000 was used as an estimate.
The film industry has worked incredibly hard to get back up and running, added Johnson, and have a very comprehensive Covid 19 Health and Safety Plan in place.
“Keeping their crew and the public safe is their number one concern. As you can imagine, this has taken a lot of extra time and resources,” said Johnson.
The additional related safety costs have had to be absorbed by these productions, many of which are smaller budget shows, she added.
Over the last few months productions have included Big Sky, Supergirl, The J Team, Batwoman, Debris and Kung Fu. The feature film Sonic the Hedgehog 2 starring Jim Carey also filmed at several locations last month.
“Based on the number of enquiries we’re receiving almost daily, and the 10 productions we currently have in progress, the summer is looking like it’s going to be very busy,” said Johnson.
And, she said, many of the productions are filming in businesses that could really use the extra revenue. Production companies are trying to spread the wealth around where possible by renting additional space for equipment/background workers, buying supplies, food and gift certificates.
Since March 1, the City of Pitt Meadows has processed 26 permits that total 37 days of filming.
TV series including Big Sky and Kung Fu, have filmed in Pitt Meadows and also the feature film Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
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