A new murder mystery series that hit Netflix on Sunday was filmed at a studio in Maple Ridge.
The Ridge Studios, a 25,000 square-foot film studio owned and operated by John Wittmayer, was turned into a 1950’s jazz club, a cozy apartment kitchen, a fancy hotel and a police station with morgue to film The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, about two Bletchley Circle sleuths, that head to America after wartime code breaking in the United Kingdom. They subsequently join forces with an American and Canadian code breaker to unlock an unsolved mystery.
“We tend to cater to local, Canadian productions and so we were thrilled to host Bletchley Circle,” said Wittmayer of the series that started streaming on Netflix Sept. 8.
“That’s what is so exciting about running a film studio. The space can transform right before your eyes. On Bletchley Circle, it was amazing to observe how the production designers go through the creative process of building a believably vintage world,” Wittmayer continued.
Production designer Joanna Dunn was one of more than 160 people who worked on the crew of Bletchley Circle on any given day. She said her favourite set, and the heart of the show, was the kitchen in the Bearden apartment that they, “wanted to make that feel warm, comforting and inviting, every person’s kitchen.”
Despite the show being set in San Francisco, the drama series was fully locally owned and controlled. With the exception of two British actors, all the cast, writers, directors and on-set crew who brought the story of the original women who code to life were from British Columbia.
“Bletchley Circle is an inspiring example of a high-profile dramatic series developed and produced by a local B.C.-owned company,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
“I’m thrilled they chose a studio in my community of Maple Ridge to film the series, and the world will get to see B.C. right in their homes,” said the minister.
The show filmed key sets at The Ridge Studios, as well as at outdoor locations around the province, including Langley and New Westminster.
Wittmayer said that since 2015, The Ridge Studios has hosted dozens of TV movies, feature films and three TV series including Bletchley Circle.
“Maple Ridge continues to be a very film-friendly destination, and we’re pleased to provide a comfortable, cost-effective studio space for film projects shooting in the Lower Mainland,” he said.
Brian Hamilton, an executive producer at Omnifilm Entertainment, a B.C.-based company that has been in business for 40 years, said that the province has a lot to offer, “especially when it comes to telling our own stories.”
“Not only was the entire crew from B.C., but revenue from worldwide sales of the series comes back to B.C. and is reinvested in creating local jobs and opportunities,” he added.
Lead actors Crystal Balint and Jessica Harmon have won Leo Awards for their roles on Bletchley Circle. Daegan Fryklind also won a Writers Guild of Canada Award for her work on the series.
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco was produced by Omnifilm Entertainment in association with U.K.-based World Productions, for Citytv, ITV, BritBox and Netflix. Worldwide distribution is handled by Kew Media.
The series was produced with the participation of the Province of British Columbia’s film incentive B.C. tax credit and the Canadian film or video tax credit.
In 2018-19, the film industry in B.C. contributed $3.2 billion in production spending to the economy.
More than 71,000 people work in the film and TV sector in the province.