Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are popular destinations for film companies looking for the perfect production backdrop.
However, both communities struggle to maintain a balance between the needs of their businesses and residents with those of the film industry.
This year, between January and the end of September, 74 productions were filmed in Maple Ridge, down from 92 that were filmed in the city the previous year.
Part of the downturn, said Marg Johnson, film production liaison for the City of Maple Ridge, can be attributed to productions moving to Vancouver Island and Kelowna, where two new purpose-built studios are located.
In addition, she said, there is a bit of “film fatigue” taking place within the community.
“In some cases, this has meant turning away productions that would have too great an impact in a particular area,” said Johnson.
In 2019, there were 21 TV series episodes shot in Maple Ridge, plus 42 weekly movies, six commercials, four feature films and one independent film.
Johnson said the most popular locations to film are along 224 St., between Dewdney Trunk Rd. and Memorial Peace Park, as there are a number of restaurants and businesses that are desirable, including The Chameleon Café, Silver Valley Brewing, The ‘T’ Shop, Cremino Gelato and Lotus and Lemongrass.
Other favourite locations, she said, include The ACT, Maple Ridge Florist, La Trattoria Restaurant and Bobby Sox Diner.
Golden Ears park has been a popular location for TV series, including Siren, Riverdale and See.
The Ridge Studios is still also seeing a lot of activity, with the Netflix feature called Love Guaranteed starring Heather Graham, Kristin Scott Thomas and Damon Wayans Jr., which just completed a 10-day film shoot there.
Pitt Meadows has issued 82 film permits to date and expects to have issued close to 100 by the end of the year. This is about the same number of permits issued as last year. However, revenue generated from those productions has increased.
Last year revenue to the city was $57,000 and this year, said Jennifer Sundram, digital communications and engagement coordinator for the City of Pitt Meadows, she expects that number to rise to $90,000 by the end of the year.
The reason for the increase, she explained, is mainly due to the fact that there has been a rise in special effects and replica guns being used on location.
“Because of this, production companies require RCMP assistance and/or fire services to be on site,” she said.
In addition, continued Sundram, the B.C. Film and Television Tax Credit continues to attract film companies to Pitt Meadows.
“The border is the Pitt River Bridge. Should a production company choose to film in Port Coquitlam, they would not be eligible for this credit,” said Sundram.
Some of the bigger productions that were filmed this year in Pitt Meadows include Riverdale, Project Blue Book, Siren, SuperGirl, The Good Doctor, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Arrow, 50 States of Fright, Picture Perfect Mysteries, The Terror, Motherland – Fort Salem and There’s Someone Inside Your House.
Locations have included Sky Helicopters, Swaneset Bay Resort, Pitt River Quarries, Aquilini Gravel Quarry, Meadow Gardens Golf Club, Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, Hopcott Farms, Pitt Lake dock, Fire Hall Bistro and Spirit Square.
Johnson predicts the film industry will remain strong in Maple Ridge in 2020.
“Increasingly, businesses and residents are registering their properties as a film location, and many residents of Maple Ridge are employed by the industry, making it very attractive to live and work in the community,” said Johnson, adding that statistics provided by Creative B.C. estimate over 1,700 Maple Ridge residents were directly employed by the film industry.
Sundram said the filming policy in Pitt Meadows is being reviewed to ensure that filming companies have fair and equitable access to city facilities and parks and that it is coordinated in a manner that attracts economic development to the city but ensures that impacts to the community and residents is minimized.