In case you haven’t heard it yet, the Hallmark Channel television series Chesapeake Shores is coming back to Parksville Qualicum Beach.
The Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm) is looking forward to the start of the third instalment of the drama series based on best-selling author Sherryl Woods’ novel of the same name. The show stars Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Treat Williams, Dianne Ladd and Barbara Niven.
Joan Miller, film commissioner, said the region is now better equipped to handle the demands of the production company with greater ease.
One of the biggest assets, Miller said, is the establisment of the film and recording studios located in 925 Fairdown Road and 1240 Valley Road in the Parksville area. The Regional District of Nanaimo board has recently given its support to the project by granting a temporary use permit for a film and recording studio on both properties, as well as entering into a funding agreement with INFilm, a non-profit organization, to provide $50,000 this year, which includes performance objectives and reporting requirements.
“It’s a very important piece of the puzzle for us to continue to grow and expand the film industry here in the region,” said Miller. “So having a purposely built studio so people can come to and build sets to the specifications of somebody’s needs in regards to working inside a sound-proof stage, it’s a great asset. It’s part of all of the things that have come together recently… the training has been huge, the new studio has been huge, having season three of a television series has been huge.”
Miller said all of these pieces needed to be completed at the same time to be effective.
“One without the other may not have resulted in the progress that we required to really see substantial growth in our industry,” said Miller.
Chesapeake Shores is now starting to gear up in the area and Miller said the production will be in the region for four months, starting April and continuing until the end of July. She said this would again be a boost to the local economy and will provide jobs to people living in the region.
“What the change is this year, is the amount of locals that are going to get employment from it,” said Miller. “We started the first year with 35 per cent local hire and the majority of the crew had to come from Vancouver. The second year it rose to 50 per cent and this year with all the training we’ve been doing, a lot of those people are going to find work in the show. So it’s just not going to be people from Vancouver coming to temporarily work here. It’s going to be a lot of people from the Nanaimo and Parksville Qualicum area that are going to be working on this production. That is going to be one of the major changes this year.”
INFilm, in partnership with North Island College, established pilot training programs for production assistant, lighting, set construction and grip. It ran in Campbell River, said Miller, to provide those interested in the field from Comox Valley to north end of Vancouver Island an opportunity to learn about jobs in the film industry. It was also held at the Vancouver Island Film studio in Parksville in January of this year to allow more people in the mid-Island and west coast to engage in the training.
Last year, Matt Drake, Chesapeake Shores producer, said more than $2.6 million was spent directly into local payroll. As well, $642,000 was spent in the regional district on house rentals, lease of commercial properties and at businesses in the region.
The Vancouver Island Film Studio still needs to be completed, said Miller.
“There’s still construction going on and it will go on until the middle of 2018,” said Miller. “It’s very exciting.”