After only six weeks since companies started filming again in Maple Ridge, the city is having to turn away productions.
Marg Johnson, film production liaison with the City of Maple Ridge, currently has 12 productions, in various stages of the creation process, on the go in the city.
“I’ve got a few commercials. I’ve got some TV series like Van Helsing and Family Law are starting up,” said Johnson.
“I’ve had probably six Hallmark Christmas movies and still more scouting,” noted the film production liaison.
However, Johnson said, she has had to turn away a few productions because she can’t accommodate more than two in the downtown core at one time.
“It’s just too much of an impact on the area businesses,” she noted.
Johnson is happy that the amount of filming taking place in the city is getting back to “normal”.
The film industry across the province came to a halt mid-March when a lock-down was imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is starting to get back to where we were a year ago,” she added.
Last year between July and September there were 25 productions being filmed at various locations across the city.
And Johnson is impressed with the care being taken by crews with regards to health and safety protocols that have been put in place.
“I’ve been on location at a couple of the film sets and they actually have COVID captains,” said Johnson.
“They take everybody’s temperature when they come on set. Everybody wears their masks until the very last minute. So they are really doing their due diligence,” she said.
Crews spent the day filming a production called My Mother’s Wedding on the front patio area of Golden Ears Cheesecrafters on Friday, Aug. 7.
Emma Davison co-owner of the artisan cheese business said they have had six to seven films in the last four months use the property, located along 128 Avenue in Maple Ridge, as a backdrop for their productions.
Davison is happy that film companies are back.
“They’ve been keeping it really tight,” said the business owner.
Crews are made up of less than 40 people, explained Davison, everyone is wearing masks until the cameras are rolling and actors, when not in front of the cameras, are assigned areas to be in – two metres apart.
At the most recent production filmed at the artisan cheese shop, Davison added, there was one girl whose job it was to follow people around and sanitize all high-touch areas.
“We found them really, really great to work with, they are very respectful,” explained Davison, who has her own contract with the companies because they are a manufacturing facility and she can’t have crews wandering into the back areas of the store.
Golden Ears Cheesecrafters was the backdrop for Hallmark’s latest release called Love on Harbor Island.
Scenes from the romantic comedy, that premiered August 8, were filmed inside the artisan cheese shop, as well as on the farm behind the store.
Love on Harbor Island is about an interior designer named Lily, played by Morgan Kohan, who is interviewing for a position at a Seattle-based company, and is looking for inspiration for her blog.
But, when she receives a phone call from a friend regarding the health of her aunt she flies back to her hometown, Harbor Island.
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The pilot of the seaplane, Marcus, played by Marcus Rosner, attempts conversation during the flight that doesn’t end well. However, their paths cross again when Lily’s aunt asks Marcus to help with renovating her inn.
Feelings develop between the two protagonists when Lily helps Marcus spread the word online about his dog rescue.
But, when the design company calls Lily for a second interview she has to choose between love and her career.
Filming for Love on Harbor Island wrapped up in October last year.
Davison has scheduled another production to film at her business in August or early September.
“And they want to shut us down for a whole week,” she said.
Davison said she enjoys the income film companies bring because they supplement her earnings.
“You can have a really rainy day or a really bad day for sales, but if you have a film booked, they’re going to pay you what your average would have been anyways,” said Davison.
At an absolute minimum, film companies inject about $10,000 per day into the local economy, continued Johnson.
And, she said, stores along 224 Street, in particular, are enjoying the extra business.
“We just had the Creative BC locations scout come out and take more up to date pictures of all the businesses because there are so many new businesses or ones that are updating their interiors,” said Johnson, adding that the scout was impressed by the 224 Street area.
The photos will be going into the Creative BC locations library, so, Johnson is expecting a lot more interest in Maple Ridge as a film destination in the future.
Love on Harbor Island is available to watch at hallmarkchannel.com.