The Vancouver film industry had one of its most lucrative years in 2015 – the number of productions increased by 40 per cent from 2014, and it looks like this rate of growth is set to continue for the upcoming year. It doesn’t take an expert, however, to recognize that the low Canadian dollar has played a massive role in this recent upsurge. But is it simply due to the economy? Vancouver has a lot more going on than just a good exchange rate. Experienced crews, huge studios, an amazing visual effects scene, and the Netflix effect are just a few reasons why Vancouver is one of the hottest locales to shoot a project.
It’s no coincidence that right around 2014, the Vancouver film industry began to take off. That was when the US dollar started to soar and the loonie fell in comparison. Fast forward to today, when that gap is wider than any in recent memory, and you have a formula for one amazing summer for Vancouver film. In 2015, international film production budgets in British Columbia rose by a whopping 54 percent. That’s a grand total of 1.7 billion dollars. In addition, these productions resulted in 143 million dollars of wages being paid to approximately 20,000 Vancouverites who work as film crews in our city. You do the math. These people are making some serious money.
According to Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, “We see firsthand the enormous positive impact on film and TV productions on our city every day. As one of Vancouver’s high-growth industries, film is a big contributor to our nation-leading economic growth. Vancouver is home to world-leading talent in the film industry and the City is committed to supporting all levels and aspects of production.” This is a key point when it comes to Vancouver’s film industry: it’s not just at an all-time high, it continues to grow. Right now we are the third busiest city in the world – and we may well rise to number two, or even one.
The Netflix effect is also one of the reasons behind the recent surge in productions. Big companies like Warner Brothers are tapping into the fact that people are turning away from “normal” television, and relying instead on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon for their entertainment needs. Huge companies such as Disney have seen their stocks fall like rocks, and experts say it’s because of the rise of streaming television. Their solution? Invest heavily in making better, higher budget television shows, and a lot of them. Warner Brothers alone is responsible for seven productions that are filming exclusively in Vancouver.
In light of these promising factors, there is a sense of optimism felt by many in the Vancouver film industry. What might the future bring? Over 350 productions were filmed in Vancouver in 2015, and that number is set to continue rising this year: 30 percent more film permits were issued this past January, than in January 2015. One thing is certain – if you’re looking to get your foot in the door in Vancouver’s film industry, there has never been a better time.