As Steveston was bidding adieu to the popular fantasy TV series “Once Upon A Time”, Richmond was saying hello to the “Twilight Zone”.
The latter was one of several TV series filmed in the city in 2018, an impressive list that also included “Project Blue Book”, “The Mission”, “The Flash”, “Take Two”, “Ink”, “Supernatural”, “The Detour”, “Grape Hemlock”, “The Terror” and season two of “Salvation” and “Sirens” and season four of “Magicians”.
The list of productions was just the start of a busy year for cinema that also included a feature film "The Kaslan Project" (part of the Chucky series); TV movies “Smalltown Christmas” and “Hope for Christmas”; and commercials for Hulu, Xfinity, Best Buy, Allstate, Mitsubishi, Johnny Walker Black, Hyundai and Philips Dreamwear.
Last year, there was filming activity over 211 days which was further supported by the opening of the first purpose-built film studio in the city. Located in East Richmond, at 22031 Fraserwood Way, it features four sound stages and over 119,000 square feet of production space.
In the 2018 Richmond Film Office Annual Report to city council, authored by film and major events liaison Jodie Shebib, it is noted that while film revenue declined in 2018 over 2017 “for a variety of reasons…the film office was able to focus on strategic initiatives which are paying off in the first quarter of 2019.”
Example of strategic initiatives include:
• staff working closely with the Fraserwood Studio group to navigate through the municipal process to gain final occupancy of the building
• staff being active in the community affairs committee, a group of municipal, provincial, union and studio executives who meet regularly to address issues regarding the film industry
• staff participating in regular outreach such as guest instruction at local management courses at BCIT, Vancouver Film School and via the Directors Guild of Canada.
The report indicates that January and February were the most profitable on record with over $160,000 in cost recoveries and revenue collected. With popular locations such as Steveston at capacity, the film office was forced to deny more than half of the film applications requesting the area.
“While staff are reluctant to make predictions regarding the remainder of the year, the current level of activity is showing no signs of slowing down,” the report says. “The low Canadian dollar, the addition of Richmond-based studios, and record levels of pilots filming regionally indicate that 2019 is potentially on track for a record-breaking year.”
In the first two months of 2019, local film productions also donated over $18,000 to local charities or causes.
April 29 to May 6 is Creative Industries Week in B.C., a celebration of film, television, music, sound recording, magazine and book publishing and interactive and digital media.
“Creative Industries Week is a celebration of the incredibly talented people who work in (these industries),” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “Their originality, innovation and imagination inspire us here at home and across the globe.”