Film crews gracing the Peninsula

Television series Gracepoint being filmed in Capital Regional District until end of May

Actor and star of the British crime series Broadchurch

When it comes to choosing locations for filming, visual appeal is an important aspect, and Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula have just that, say producers of Gracepoint.

“Greater Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula are incredibly beautiful and the natural landscape of the Island is incredibly visually appealing. We chose Vancouver Island because of the visual appeal,” said the show’s Executive Producer, Carolyn Bernstein, from her office in Los Angeles.

Bernstein went on to say choosing the locations on the Peninsula like the Sidney waterfront were chosen based on where the show is set.

“The locations are doubling for Northern California and Victoria and the Peninsula had the wild, rugged and beautiful look that felt really right for the production,” she said.

Until the end of May, various locations in the Capital Regional District, including the Sidney waterfront, Brentwood Bay, Patricia Bay and Oak Bay, will play host to the filming of the show which is a North American remake of the U.K. crime series Broadchurch.

“Broadchurch is, of course, the original series and our remake is taking the essence of the original show and Americanizing it. While we’re all familiar with the original series and love it, we want to make this series uniquely ours,” said Brenstien, adding the show has a completely different cast with the exception of David Tennant, who starred in the original.

The show, which is filming ten episodes and is set to air on FOX later in 2014, also stars Nick Nolte (48 Hours, Warrior), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), among others.

“It’s a fast and furious process to film it and air it this year. Once it’s aired we will see how the show performs and if there will be a second season,” said Bernstien, adding that if there are additional seasons, the company hopes to film in the same locations.

Kathleen Gilbert, Film Commissioner from the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission said the project is an amazing boost for Victoria’s film industry.

“Until they finish filming we can only estimate the numbers, but I would say we will see a minimum of $10 million in direct spending in the area from Gracepoint,” said Gilbert.

Prior to 2008, Gilbert said, Victoria’s film industry was bringing in anywhere from $15 to $20 million annually but after changes to film tax credits and global economic troubles, that number dropped to about $7 million.

“Since 2008 it’s been stagnant at about $7 million but with Gracepoint that number has already been surpassed in one project. We’re expecting about $14 to $15 million total this year,” she said, adding that with the new changes to film tax credits she hopes to see those numbers only go up.

Gilbert said filming a series like Gracepoint in the CRD opens doors for many industries.

“I was so excited about this production when we landed it. This series will have probably the biggest impact on film tourism in the CRD since X-Men filmed at Hatley Castle in 2000. The town in the U.K. where Broadchurch was filmed has seen a huge peak in film tourism. People are going to the town just to see the filming locations. When a company like Gracepoint comes to the CRD it benefits all industries including future tourism and jobs and the more immediate things being used in the production like car rentals, restaurants, hotel, lumber yards and hardware stores. It’s really a trickle down effect when a production this size comes to town.”

Gilbert said one challenge Victoria’s film industry has faced in the wake of Gracepoint coming to town has been employee numbers.

“Since 2008 and the downturn in the economy, our crew base has been eroded,” she explained.

“People move away, they find jobs in other industries, and to build that employee base again will take time. It didn’t erode overnight nor will it be rebuilt overnight.”

According to Gilbert, 40 per cent of the Gracepoint crew is local and many others have been brought in elsewhere, including from Vancouver’s film industry.

“Gracepoint is serving as a great training ground for local employees. The production is training a lot of crew so it’s really great for them to get the experience of working on a production of this scale.”

Sidney Mayor Larry Cross, in a previous interview with the PNR, said he’s excited to see the activity in his community.

“It’s a big production and it should bring some added economic activity to Sidney.”

— With a file from Steven Heywood