A web of related activity creates value beyond the set
Movie Maker Magazine often names Greater Vancouver as one of the best places to make movies in North America. Beginning in the year 2017 it was named to the list, tying with New York for first place. Since then, Vancouver Film Festival and Victoria Film Festival have both been named to Movie Maker Magazine’s top 50 film festival lists. In 2021 it recognized both the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Film School in its top film schools list, and also in 2021, Greater Victoria was #5 on the top 10 list of Small Cities and Towns to make a movie in North America.
These accolades reveal an ecosystem beyond the core of the motion picture industry – the productions that employ people and the unions and guilds that supply labour – upon which that core depends for innovation and success.
Five Key Areas of the Ecosystem
Looking at Movie Maker’s criteria for selection, other than the number of productions, shoot durations, and economic activity generated through production spending, specific ripple effects are measured. This includes the contributions to community, culture and the economy of film schools, film commissions, industry initiatives and associations, and special interest organizations, from non-profits to screening venues and more.
The following are 5 segments of B.C.’s film industry ecosystem, where people with expertise in film industry service, stewardship, education, governance and events serve and thrive in parallel with the province’s production activity.
1. Service, Supply & Production Equipment Companies
There are well over 60 companies providing equipment, expertise and supplies to productions in B.C. From cranes to camera rentals, and specialized helicopters to generators, from air cooling equipment to marine filming equipment, B.C. businesses have grown to support production. These businesses are well-established, and many have designed and innovated equipment now used around the world to enhance and supply the unique needs of each production department or technical need of the industry.
2. Education and Training Organizations Related to Film
Actsafe is a not-for-profit health and safety organization providing resources and training to employers, workers, and supervisors in arts and entertainment.
Additionally, thirty-one post-secondary schools provide specific training to people working in B.C.’s film industry. Seventeen of these educational institutions are engaged directly in digital media and motion picture production, providing outstanding facilities, training, as well as research services to the private sector businesses innovating and serving film production.
3. Industry Associations
Key Industry Assocations
- Motion Picture Industry Association of BC (MPPIA)
- Canadian Media Producers Association, BC Branch (CMPA – BC)
- Animation & Visual Effects Alliance of BC (Anim/VFX Alliance)
- Vancouver Post Alliance (VPA)
- Commercial Producers Association of Western Canada (CPAWC, based in Vancouver)
Related Industry Organizations
- Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society
- DigiBC – the Interactive & Digital Media Industry Association
- Documentary Organization of Canada – BC, Yukon, NWT (DOC BC)
- Field & Post Vancouver
- Pacific Cinémathèque Pacifique Society (The Cinematheque)
- Spark Computer Graphics Society (Spark)
- VR/AR Association, Vancouver Chapter (VRARA)
- Visual Effects Society (VES)
- Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV)
4. Film Commissions + Related Government Bodies
At the provincial level, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport is responsible for overseeing and supporting B.C.’s motion picture industry.
Through provincial funding and designation by the province as its agency of record for the industry, Creative BC champions the industry, administers provincial motion picture tax credits, provides provincial film commission services and funding to regional film commissions, and supports both B.C. production companies and creators as well as the entire ecosystem with funding and grants to grow and sustain the sector.
Supporting the film industry’s work is the primary function of the provincial film commission, facilitating relationships between industry and the municipalities, their film permitting offices, regional film commissions, all of whom collaborate to ensure top level service to incoming productions and smooth collaboration among all stakeholders.
At the regional level, eight regional film commissions deliver localized expertise and production services to incoming productions including: location services; a digital locations library; and crew, equipment and service information.
- Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism
- Columbia Shuswap Film Commission
- Kootenay Regional Film Commission (Kootenay Film)
- Northern BC Tourism
- Okanagan Film Commission
- Thompson-Nicola Film Commission
- Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm)
- Vancouver Island South Media & Film Commission
At the municipal level, Film Liaison Offices exist where production activity is higher (such as the City of Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, City of Surrey and City of Richmond) or individual Film Liaisons work independently in municipal organizations with responsibility for film services.
Municipalities interact with productions directly, which must purchase permits to film on location within these jurisdictions’ boundaries. There are 35 municipal film offices and liaisons from Hope to Pemberton, all of which collaborate on a monthly basis with facilitation from Creative BC’s provincial film commission.
5. Film Festivals
There are many diverse film festivals in Metro Vancouver, the majority of which offer industry training workshops and development programs as an industry-facing complement to their public-facing festivals.
Festivals in the Metro Vancouver area include festivals of various sizes, with two of the most notable being:
- the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), one of North America’s 5 largest festivals, which is celebrating its 40th year in 2021
- the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF), which is Canada’s longest running Asian film festival
Select list of B.C. film festivals
- Antimatter Festival of Underground Short Film & Video
- BC Student Film Festival
- Cowichan International Aboriginal Festival of Film & Art
- Crazy 8’s Filmmaking Challenge
- DOXA Documentary Film Festival
- European Union Film Festival
- New Forms Festival
- Reel Youth Film Festival
- Rendez-Vous French Film Festival
- Skoden Indigenous Film Festival
- Vancouver Asian Film Festival
- Vancouver Film Festival
- Vancouver Horror Show Film Festival
- Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival
- Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival
- Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival
- Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
- Vancouver Jewish Film Festival
- Vancouver Latin American Film Festival
- Vancouver Queer Film Festival
- Vancouver Short Film Festival
- Victoria Film Festival
- Whistler Film Festival
Did you know?
- Thomas FX is a B.C.-based company and the world leader in the manufacturing and distribution of fake, biodegradable snow
- Aircover Inflatables (formerly Shoreline) invented an inflatable green screen and won an Academy Award® for it in 2016. The invention was designed by a below-the-line worker and key grip of 15 years who wanted to lessen the dangers an overhead frame used by lighting and rigging technicians during filmmaking. They constructed one using air, and in the process realized the concept could be modified into a wall for visual effects. The inflatable green screen was born for outdoor visual effects.
- In 2017, Portable Electric sponsored the Crazy8s film competition, and that created a whole wave of film interest. The company got their first significant production, The Man in the High Castle, and that was instrumental in understanding what film people needed. Since then, they’ve worked with most of the major studios, and on films like Bond 25 where crews are taking their portable power units around the world, on boats and up in cranes
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