Possibility of film studio at Camosun College one step closer to reality with new provincial funding

·3 min read
According to the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, productions in the area in 2020 contributed about $55 million to the provincial economy in 2020. The construction of a studio in the capital city could bring in bigger productions, and bigger profits, in the future. (Shutterstock / Virrage Images - image credit)
According to the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, productions in the area in 2020 contributed about $55 million to the provincial economy in 2020. The construction of a studio in the capital city could bring in bigger productions, and bigger profits, in the future. (Shutterstock / Virrage Images - image credit)

Show business is big business in British Columbia's capital city and new money from the provincial government to a local college could mean the potential for bigger productions and bigger profits in the future, according to the region's film commissioner.

Kathleen Gilbert, with the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, told CBC Radio Thursday that area productions contributed about $55 million to the provincial economy in 2020 and that that number would likely increase if the area had a film studio.

Gilbert's comments followed an announcement from Camosun College that the province will be providing $150,000 to the school to explore educational opportunities for students in the film industry, and the possible development of a film studio on the college's Interurban Campus in Victoria.

"If we were able to land some of these really big shows, that could be the direct spend of one show rather than having to land 25 shows which is what we have to do to make $55 million," said Gilbert, during an interview on CBC's On The Island.

Despite the lack of studio space, and a raging global virus, Gilbert says there are still a lot of television and film productions currently shooting in and around Victoria.

For privacy reasons — and to avoid spoilers — Gilbert can't divulge all the shows and movies being made about town right now, but she did make note of the comedy film American Dreamer, which she said was filmed locally and should be out on Netflix soon.

The cast includes actors Peter Dinklage and Shirley MacLaine, as well as island local of Letterkenney fame Michelle Mylett.

Michelle Mylett, seen here third from left with her male co-stars on the hit Canadian show Letterkenney, is from southern Vancouver Island and can be seen in the upcoming dark Netflix comedy film, American Dreamer, which was recently shot in Victoria.
Michelle Mylett, seen here third from left with her male co-stars on the hit Canadian show Letterkenney, is from southern Vancouver Island and can be seen in the upcoming dark Netflix comedy film, American Dreamer, which was recently shot in Victoria.(BellMedia handout/Canadian Press)

And Gilbert said the commission is working to secure a number of summer and fall projects as well.

According to a release from Camosun College, the new provincial money could help to get more locals working in the industry.

"Educational opportunities could include carpentry and electrical programs for trades students; new diploma and certificate programs such as digital animation; and, skills training programs for people in the industry," said Sherri Bell, college president.

Camosun College in Victoria, B.C. will use $150,00 in government funding to look into developing a film studio on campus and other film-related opportunities for students.
Camosun College in Victoria, B.C. will use $150,00 in government funding to look into developing a film studio on campus and other film-related opportunities for students.(Camosun College/Facebook)

Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South, also expressed excitement about the opportunities a studio at the college could create.

"This investment could help Camosun achieve its goal of developing sound stages that can attract international productions and train the next generation of people who do the amazing work behind the scenes of the movie and TV industry," said Popham.

The college is setting up an advisory committee to help with planning.

And in the meantime, Gilbert said unusual film locations are among the area's strong points.

"We have castles and lighthouses, things you can't find elsewhere in B.C."