A recent film production in front of the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

A recent film production in front of the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge. (Contributed)

OUTLOOK18: Expect more film productions next year in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Tax incentives and scenery are perks for the industry

This is the first story from the seventh edition of Outlook, an annual publication examining the area’s economic energy. Look for more each day for the next several weeks.

It’s been a busy season for the film industry in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

In 2018 there were 92 productions shot in Maple Ridge, compared to 82 in 2017, 83 in 2016, 56 in 2015 and 53 in 2014.

There were 260 permits bought during the 354 shoot days in the city.

Revenue from permits and licences totalled $164,576, up 106 per cent from 2014 that brought in $79,924.

This year the economic impact from production shoots in Maple Ridge is expected to be around $3.54 million, that is estimated at a minimum $10,000 per day of shooting.

The pilot season was especially busy in April and May this year.

“We’ve had Christmas here, as you probably know, a lot,” laughed Marg Johnson, film production liaison with the City of Maple Ridge.

Recently there was a skating rink prop build in front of the ACT Arts Centre by Memorial Peace Park. It looked so real that somebody decided to drop by with their skates, but found out that the rink was made of acrylic.

Last year there was the threat of a writer’s strike which slowed down film production, but the low Canadian dollar and tax credits managed to sustain the industry.

Next year, Johnson says, it looking to be equally as busy for Maple Ridge.

“It’s not slowing down,” Johnson said.

“Every indication is that it’s going to stay as busy as it has been,” she said noting that Maple Ridge sees a lot of television series that are filming all of their episodes in the city.

“The feedback I am getting is that we have faster film processes and it’s just a smoother process,” said Johnson whose heard from people in the industry that it’s taking way too long to get their permits completed in other municipalities.

“They just like the neighbourhoods, the downtown core area works really well for them and they can just park their trucks and they can do cart rolls around the area so they are not constantly picking up and parking,” she said of Maple Ridge.

Johnson is also finding that when productions do come into the city that they are using numerous locations.

“Where in the past they’ld have maybe three or four. Now I’m getting 10 to 12,” explained Johnson.

What Johnson is also hearing from location managers is that they love Maple Ridge and they plan to keep bringing their productions back here.

In Pitt Meadows productions are up 10 per cent from 2017 which saw a 20 per cent increase over 2016.

“Overall, we’ve had about a 55 per cent increase in filming in Pitt Meadows since 2015,” said Susann Sigmund, the arts and cultural services coordinator for the City of Pitt Meadows.

“I honestly think we’re a really desirable place to film. It’s the natural place so we have a lot of charm and a lot of natural beauty,” she said adding that the border for tax incentives also helps.

Creative B.C., the old B.C. film commission, changed the borders for tax incentives for filming. Production companies are offered special tax incentives to film in communities east of the Pitt River bridge.

“We’ve been very fortunate in terms of revenue and the ability to have film go on here,” said Sigmund.

About 100 films will have been filmed in Pitt Meadows in 2018.

“Out of those we’ve had approximately 15 were your bigger movies and we had 12 Christmas productions, 16 were t.v. commercials and the balance are really made for t.v., some are smaller t.v. series,” said Sigmund, including Supergirl, Van Helsing and Sonic.

There was approximately $40,000 in revenue from film productions this past year and that includes film permits and highway use permits.

Next year Sigmund believes there is going to be a bit of a shift in filming in general.

“What we are starting to see is we have a lot of live stream, it’s the new trend now,” said Sigmund, giving the examples of Netflix, Hulu, Facebook Watch and Amazon Prime Video.

Limetown Canada Producations Inc., was scheduled to film a live stream production in Osprey Village this past fall but they didn’t have their cast ready at the time and they had to withdraw.

“I think that we are going to see a lot more filming in terms of live stream productions from these different companies such as Amazon and Facebook. They also have some larger dollars to spend,” said Sigmund.

I think that we’re on the right side of the border. I think that there is an increase in filming overall. I think that despite the American, Canadian dollar we still have some healthy filming activity in the Lower Mainland in general,” said Sigmund.

Pitt Meadows will be doing a film policy review that they started with the application of Limetown and they will be finishing the review in the first quarter of 2019.