Maple Ridge yells ‘cut’ to downtown movie shoots

Temporary moratorium until Oct. 31 on any more filming permits

Maple Ridge is getting too much of a good thing, leading to a temporary shutdown on shooting any more movies in the downtown.

A moratorium on filming in the downtown has been put into place, effective Monday. It will remain until Oct. 31.

“There has been some difficulty with some of the businesses,” said Ineke Boekhorst, with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association.

”We’re just reviewing how that is dealt with. Existing businesses need to function and be able to open for business. And sometimes that’s not always possible.”

Blocking access to businesses, cleaning up the streets after filming and movie vehicles taking customer parking spots are some of the issues.

“We just had to stop and take a deep breath and look at how this can work for everybody,” Boekhorst added.

Businesses have complained to both the BIA and the city.

At the same time, Coun. Gordy Robson said, production companies are inconvenienced when they have to move locations because of complaints.

The film industry calls it “burning out a location.”

Robson said the city’s film liaison department has issued a moratorium on issuing new film permits until the problems are resolved.

About 1,200 Maple Ridge residents are in the film industry here, he added.

In the first three months of this year, there were 119 film filming days, compared to 50 for the same period in 2016.

John Wittmayer, who runs The Ridge Film Studios in downtown Maple Ridge, said the situation could be eased if film companies used his studios for parking, food services and equipment storage, when possible.

“But what they want to do is be right on top of the location. They don’t want to walk 10 feet and that’s what’s causing the problem.”

That results in trucks and equipment of all types cluttering the downtown and Memorial Peace Park.

A labour shortage in the film industry also means inexperienced location managers, who work with cities, are not minimizing the impacts of film crews.

Wittmayer said he’s seen film companies wear out their welcomes in Vancouver, Burnaby, and White Rock.

Film companies have to listen to the rules set out by the city’s film liaison department, he added.

“It’s not an easy thing to say ‘no’ to a producer from L.A. It’s perceived that it may hurt your career if you’re the guy who says ‘no.’”

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