Friday, November 26, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action

Vancouver is also known to some as Hollywood North. We are the world's third largest film centre and second only to Los Angeles for television production.

To give you an impression of how big the industry is here let's take a look at some of film industry related businesses that exist in Vancouver and its suburbs:

Vancouver Film Studios is the largest production facility outside of Los Angeles. It has 13 sound stages spread over 30 acres.

Lion's Gate Studios in North Vancouver has eight large stages that can be matched in a facade to match almost any background wanted.

Bridge Studios in Burnaby is home to North America's largest effects stage along with six others totalling 120,000 square feet.

Then there is the Boundary Road Studios in Burnaby. This  93,000 sq. ft. studio strives to centralize all functions of the filmmaking process. Boundary Road Studios have accomadated everything from low budget TV-shows to mega features.

Hollywood in Vancouver is nothing new. The first production was in 1913 although the 'Hollywood Boom' didn't happen until 1930. Our proximity to Los Angeles, our fairly mild climate (usually) and a cooperative government make Vancouver an ideal second location for filming.

When a person is walking around the city and happens to see a sight like either of these two vans then you know that a production is probably underway near by.

And don't be surprised if you walk in on a scene being shot like I did here. The show being filmed was Supernatural and this is in Chinatown.

The film industry may garner concessions from our government but it also generates a lot of work and money into the economy. Of course local actors get to mix with the big names from the U.S. and hopefully make a well deserved name for themselves. (Eric McCormack from Will and Grace I remember first seeing in Vancouver's own Street Justice with Carl Weathers) And there are many other areas directly related to production such as Production Managers, Unit Managers, Production Coordinators, Post Production supervisors, first assistant director, second assistant director, production assistant and so on that require people to fill the spots and look no further than Vancouver for competent and talented people to work in these positions.

There are also art directors and assistants, set directors, illustrators, props, construction and the list goes on. Then take into consideration catering. People have to eat. Trucks to transport sets etc from place to place. Mobile dressing rooms. And a million other little things that I can't think of right now. It all has to be done by someone and that someone is making money which is going back into the economy.

And don't forget locations. The industry needs those.

What a great use for old buildings! Turn the run down structures into money generating machines and with the magic of film who knows what these ordinary buildings will become.

A booming business to be sure. One that it would benefit us to keep in Vancouver.

We can't forget about our local forays into the world of television either.

CTV is Canada's largest privately owned network and the main television asset of CTVglobemedia. In the last eight  years CTV has consistently placed in the top with the most viewers according to key demographics.

And as Canadian as the flag with its maple leaf is the following emblem:

The CBC or Canadian Broadcasting System, was established in 1936. (That predates our flag which came to be in 1965) This Canadian crown corporation supplies not only radio service but also television stations around the nation. Many Canadian talents can credit CBC with giving them a start.

I grew up in Northern British Columbia in the seventies. The only television station we had at the time was CBC North and as much as we laugh about the programming that was available, CBC was the only one that cared enough to supply northern residents with television entertainment. The original theme to Hockey Night in Canada will always bring a smile to my face though as will the mention of the long running CBC drama, The Beachcombers.

The CBC building on Hamilton Street is the second largest CBC production facility in English speaking Canada. The building was designed by Paul Merrick and from what I just read it wasn't always popular with Vancouverites.

The original building was one of concrete without a lot of windows, oddly shaped with giant air ducts. Sounds interesting I think. You can see the 1975 version in the background of this photo and I guess the critics are right. It does resemble a bunker.

The new, glass filled building looks much more inviting and less like a cold war prison that, if you enter, you might never emerge.

So that was a little look into the film industry in Vancouver. There is much more to write on the business and who knows. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to look at it again.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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