The film commissioner for the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission says that although the crew filming an episode of The Twilight Zone in Ashcroft has finished, more productions are planning on, or considering, coming to the area, providing economic spin-off for the region and training opportunities for those wanting to get into the film industry.
Victoria Weller says that a crew producing a TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s The Stand will be moving into the region before the Twilight Zone set is struck, to film on Cornwall Road, Highway 97C, the Ashcroft Reserve, and in downtown Ashcroft for one scene which, like The Twilight Zone, will require a blackout for several hours in the 4th and Brink Street area.
Weller says that The Stand will be followed by the TV series Resident Alien. The film commissioner says that she is hoping that the Project Blue Book TV series will return, and that another TV series, Van Helsing, is looking into the area.
She notes that while the region has seen its fair share of film crews, the plethora of TV series filming in, or seriously considering, the Thompson-Okanagan is a new phenomenon.
“Traditionally, TV series have not been able to film in the regions. We’re finding that streamers [streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon] and TV networks are investing more in TV now, so the market is changing.
“What the selling proposition is [in the region] is that the looks we offer in this zone and area you can’t get in Vancouver or on Vancouver Island, so it’s very beneficial for us.”
When it comes to what more is needed to encourage film crews to come here, Weller says we definitely need warehouses, as those are something she is often asked for. Even more important, however, is having trained crew members available.
“I’d love to have trained crew. When I was at a meeting in Vancouver we discussed barriers to having more production here, and one is having a complete crew: one that’s not only trained but has experience.
“Getting education is one thing, and sometimes that’s not easy, but getting the experience is another thing. Usually you can’t get experience unless you’re willing to work in Vancouver or Kelowna at this point, or unless we get slates of productions on a continuous basis, not all at once. We’re at that in-between stage where we need to increase the volume of production, and it’s difficult to get them to stay from beginning to end when we don’t have a local, strong base.”
Weller adds that we do have the talent in front of the camera. “We have people who know how film works, so we’re ahead in that regard. We have a talent agency [Askem Talent, which has recently opened divisions in Kelowna and the Lower Mainland as well], and we have vendors with equipment, so we’re making progress.”
Working with production companies locally is a good way of getting training in the industry, depending on what you want to be, says Weller.
“You may have been a production assistant (PA) on a production, but maybe you want to do makeup or be a grip. A crew comprises individual skill sets, so you need to know where you want to be, but if you want to be a PA whenever someone comes into town then register, so I know I can give you call when something comes up.”
Weller also sends emails to interested people when filming is coming up in the area.
“Just email and we’ll send you a password, and you can create your own biography so people can check you out, even if you’ve worked as a PA on just one show. If you’ve worked as an extra, you can register with Askem Talent in Kamloops, or you can register with agencies in Vancouver.
“There are lots of options. We’re starting to see movement where companies based in Kamloops are opening offices in Kelowna, and people in Kelowna are interested in what’s happening in our area,. There’s more synergy developing.”
For more information about Askem Talent, go to https://askemtalent.com. For more information about the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission, including education videos such as “Production Assistant: A Day on a Film Set”, go to https://www.filmthompsonnicola.com.
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