Chesapeake Shores and the Sonic the Hedgehog movie were among productions that contributed close to $20 million to the economy across the Regional District of Nanaimo, says a local film commissioner.
Joan Miller, film commissioner for Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm), made a funding request presentation at the RDN committee of the whole meeting Nov. 26, seeking $50,000. The commission promotes the region to the film industry and Miller said Chesapeake Shores, the Hallmark Channel series, has provided a multimillion-dollar boon for the economy over the last few years.
“The total impact to the region for [Chesapeake Shores’] last four seasons has been $18.5 million, so we broke it down to over 35,000 room nights, vendor spend $9 million, local payroll $9 million, so you can see the impact [filming] is having and job creation is having in your region,” Miller told RDN directors at the meeting.
Miller also said INFilm worked on a number of bigger features in the past year-and-a-half, including Disney’s Descendants 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog, which filmed in Ladysmith and on the Island Highway within the RDN.
“Nanaimo was its base, that’s where all the hotel rooms were, that’s where all the services came out of and The Amazing Race Canada, another project we worked on this year, their extra total room nights were 4,000 and close to $1 million,” Miller said. “So when you look at adding it up in the last year and a half, it’s been close to $20 million directly input into this region.”
Miller said INFilm has a studio in Errington, but it is booked until 2022 and research is being done on the possibility of another. She said she has been working with the City of Nanaimo and Lantzville.
“The staff have been forwarding me names of developers … and so I’m in a series of meetings now because we desperately need more stage space,” said Miller. “We’ve got a lot of production coming in 2020-2021. They might come here for more than just our locations. They’d like to come here and set up, but we actually need facilities.”
As part of its budget discussions for 2020, the RDN committee gave preliminary approval to INFilm’s funding request.
Sheryl Armstrong, RDN Nanaimo director, said the service provided by INFilm is valuable, even though she was originally unsure of the commission.
“I remember when you first came to council, I was kind of skeptical, but not anymore because I think the work is amazing now,” said Armstrong.