Film studio proposal eyes Saanich Peninsula

Partnered Films seeking location for new studio on the Island.

Shafik Chernovsky

The Saanich Peninsula could be the home to a new film studio, attracting many stars from Los Angeles — or so is the hope of one man.

Vice-President of Development for Partnered Films, Shafik Chernovsky has been in the film industry in Vancouver since 1999 and knows how much the lower mainland has to offer. He said he believes the Island offers lots of opportunity.

“I feel that we’re overly saturated (in Vancouver) and there’s so much potential to this industry for expansion …” said Chernovsky.

He said one of the biggest things he’s always been beside himself with is the fact that the film industry could be province-wide, as it’s low impact, sustainable and it’s a $1.8 billion dollar a year industry.

Chernovsky said he is currently looking at three locations; one in Esquimalt and two in Central Saanich.

“We don’t have anything locked down yet. Part of the reason of course is that we need the initial investment …”

The two in Central Saanich would be located on Keating Cross Road.

“The major reason why Keating Cross Road is so good is because it’s an industrial zone and there’s a lot of vendors that are easily transferrable to the industry,” he said.

One of those is Western One, which he said would be beneficial for using their genie and scissor lifts for a variety of pjoects.

Slegg Building supplies is also a great vendor, he said, as they could have access to construction materials if they needed it.

“The Lower Mainland has a great look about it but it’s not the only look that the province can offer,” he said.

He said one of the big issues he had back in 2011 was that the industry didn’t have many new ways of representation outside of the lower mainland.

“So when we had our issues that came up on a front that other parts of B.C felt we were overly entitled, we didn’t really deserve to be heard when we had our own issues…”

Part of that reason, he said, was the fact that many parts of the province couldn’t appreciate what they were fighting for.

One of the reasons he wants to bring the film industry to Vancouver Island is because of its looks.

“It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s not the same old, same old every show anymore. Even smaller shows can take full advantage of it,” said Chernovsky.

He said it’s outside of what they consider “the zone.”

He explained that in Vancouver the industry considers there to be three: the local zone; the regional zone, and; the distant zones.

He said there are some important things to consider going forward. One is that with the lack of crews for production, it would mean that they would have to import their crews from the lower mainland.

He said they’ve got a lot of crew that have moved from Victoria and rented small apartments in Vancouver just so they can learn the trade and gain experience.

“So those same people now can now come back home, back to Victoria and film in Victoria and they’re experienced and they’re considered local crew, so therefore no needing to import,” he said.

Chernovsky is hoping to have everything in development (production offices to start) and ready to go around February 2017 and hopes to have a studio fully operational by 2018.