Studios do some scouting

Productions have pumped $80 M into economy of Parksville Qualicum Beach and Island north of Victoria in past 15 years

The movie Wrecked

Confidentiality agreements with Hollywood studios force her to keep it on the down low, but the region’s film commissioner believes film and television executives will continue to take advantage of this area’s beauty and terrain for their projects.

Joan Miller has helped shepherd a number of productions to this region in recent years, including feature films like Wrecked (starring Adrien Brody) and Foreverland (staring Max Theriot).

Productions like those have pumped more than $80 million into the local economy in the 15 years of the film commission’s operation, said Miller. That’s direct economic benefit in the form of catering, accommodations, etc., she said.

“That does make a difference” for local economies,” said Miller.

On its website (infilm.ca), the Vancouver Island North Film Commission (VINFC) states that it “provides liaison and location scouting services to the film, television, commercial and new-media industry in filming on northern Vancouver Island, from Nanaimo to Cape Scott, including the Powell River Regional District.”

The commission is a non-profit entity and tries to scrape together a budget of $150,000, garnered mostly from grants and money from some municipalities and regional districts.

“I’ve had to not pay myself sometimes,” said Miller.

The Town of Qualicum Beach, City of Parksville and Regional District of Nanaimo do not provide any funds to the commission.

Miller said she had “studio people, in our cars, on the ground” in November and December of 2012, scouting for potential film locations in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

“We are constantly seeking business for that area,” she said.

Those efforts are done without regard for which communities and regional districts fund the commission, said Mike Wansink, the Qualicum Beach resident who is the president of the VINFC.

Only a few communities and regional districts provide funding for the commission “yet the benefits go to all of them,” said Wansink, who also said he has made recent contact with staff and/or municipal politicians in both Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

“I’m not asking for big money,” said Wansink. “It’s more for leverage purposes and moral support.”

The Town of Qualicum Beach historically does not dole out grants. Wansink said he “gave them (town staff) a draft copy of a fee-for-service agreement that I didn’t put a number in.”

He said he has also discussed the commission and its funding recently with Parksville Mayor Chris Burger.

Wansink said VINFC is an economic development tool for the region.

“Historically, the rate of return is $20 for every dollar invested,” he said.

Wansink said he shares Miller’s optimism about the prospects for productions coming to the Parksville Qualicum Beach region in 2013.

“It’s looking extremely positive right now,” he said.

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