Fraser Valley Dilemma – Business Vs. Film Industry – Local React

Fraser Valley – If there is one unholy alliance in business in our piece of paradise, it’s how the film industry plays an enormous role generating spin off business for the local economy.

It can also be a pain in the *** for some.

The issue has raised it’s head again in Abbotsford.

So far this year, the City of Abbotsfored has surpassed 2015’s record number of film shoots and filming days.

The Canadian loonie, the pristine locations and the experience of local crews all contribute.

2016 has seen (in Abby) 32 film shoots and 106 film day with 10 different films were shot in August alone.

Just two years ago, in 2014, Abbotsford saw 11 films shooting which accounted for 47 days of production.

The problem is that local merchants (especially in old downtown)are complaining about customers not being able to access various street front businesses when the Director calls “Action”.

Alongside access are complaints about lack of parking when the circus trucks (film crew trucks) roll into town.

One should note that many businesses are unaware that the City of Abbotsford have a complaint avenue for business to come to terms with the film makers. Crews can offer affected merchants “Loss of Business” forms that serve as a bridge for potential compensation between film producers and film companies. These are made available through Creative BC – formally the BC Film Commission.

Abbotsford is not immune to this. Chilliwack went through a massive controversy when the film “Monster Trucks” was filmed in the Wack in 2014. Again, parking and access to business were a common complaint. Chilliwack has been the home for many a TV commercial shoot (A&W for instance) and Agassiz was the home for Wayward Pines in 2013.

This is not an issue that will go away. In fact, the controversy will continue to ramp up, again looking at the Canadian dollar and the fact that not many sets in the Valley have been “burned”. That term describes an area that has been used frequently for film shoots but crews have worn out their welcome in the community, usually due to controversy between film companies and local residents who don’t end up becoming good neighbors.

With the “Monster Trucks” controversy, that exposed a serious lack of communication with local business and the Chilliwack Film Commission, since re-branded as Creative Chilliwack, which is under the umbrella of CEPCO – Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation. The complaint was that the Chilliwack Film Commission didn’t adequately warn residents/businesses about the extent of the disruptions.

Abbotsford’s City Hall handles their film location requests.

Note that the City of Vancouver has seen a 40 per cent spike in productions between 2014 and 2015. That will not slow down anytime soon and there is a spill over effect to the Fraser Valley. It’s something that we who live in the Fraser Valley, will just have to get used to. The film industry through permits and local purchasing (groceries, building supplies, automotive supplies and crews spending locally) drops a lot of cash into the local economy. It would be foolish for the entire economy to turn down.

The challenge is learning to live with with each other. The irony is as businesses complain about the inconvenience, film shoots are never permanent in the Valley.

The economic spinoffs are healthy, which is why the City of Surrey quickly jumped onto the bandwagon and were able to assist in the conversion of the old Pacific Press building and turn that into the Netflix based Skydance Studio.

It is only a matter of time when the Valley will see that type of film/video development.

Along with that. there will be more complaints when the Director calls “Action”.

Debbie Walker from the Vancouver/Chilliwack media firm Translucent Publicity told FVN:

Since moving to the Chilliwack, I have consistently attempted to garner interest in our VAST community. We can provide the opportunity to invite all the LOCATION MANAGERS and SCOUTS to see what we have to offer. ALL the businesses impacted are fairly compensated for the disruption. That being said, the film industry can be a nuisance in the process alone. Investigating many locations and then deciding on another community to film in.

However, if any one business wishes to opt out, they can easily be left out of the process and carry on as per normal. I cannot speak for the industry at large, however many films (not ones that require Computer Graphics such as MONSTER INC>) only shoot from 3 – 5 weeks/Mon – Fri. Series are another story.

Chilliwack is missing out in millions of dollars by waiting for someone to knock on their door. Abbotsford is just 15 minutes away, and the film industry is BURDGEONING. We should be able to reap some of the benefits of that. Victoria has seen a resurgence in production, due to the high volume of filming in Metro Vancouver and the lack of facilities to provide for the production crews. Alternatives are being anxiously researched.

With the opening of the newest NETFLIX/SKYDANCE studios, we are a mere hour away…

Hey FILM INDUSTRY, We are here waiting for you in Chilliwack!!!

THERE ARE CURRENTLY 53 PRODUCTIONS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. 29 are Series, many shooting into next year’s spring.

We should be able to wrangle a piece of the action.

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