Film production on Vancouver Island has been put on pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Penny Rogers/Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission)

COVID-19 sees Vancouver Island film production fade to black

Industry staff work from home, use break to focus on writing, post and pre-production

Lights, camera – no action!

Film production on Vancouver Island is temporarily paused due to the current pandemic situation.

Film crews have postponed production in order to adhere to social distancing measures recommended by health officials.

Kathleen Gilbert, film commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission (VISFMC), said all film commission staff are currently working from home.

She noted that animation and post production has been impacted to a lesser degree, as they are able to work remotely. However, no physical productions are scheduled for the near future.

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Gilbert says it is difficult to forecast whether there will be long-lasting impacts on the film industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In the short term, we expect to be very busy as soon as restrictions are lifted [when] everyone races to get their projects finished as quickly as possible,” said Gilbert.”We are looking forward to what we expected to be our busiest summer ever.”

Gilbert added that this break is giving staff a chance to clean up their website, desktops, as well as locations and crew databases.

Darlene Tait, a local actor, producer and member of VISFMC, said there are currently no projects requiring crews and equipment happening in “Victoria’s Indie world,” adding that most Cinevic members are also focused on writing or doing pre-production for future projects using online meetings.

“Many are taking advantage to get previous works in front of ‘captive’ audiences,” said Tait. “Some are getting creative and making shorts using family and whatever equipment they own and sharing it on social media. Creativity never actually stops, it just finds new paths to expression.”

Vancouver Island is a hot spot for film production – in the CRD, approximately 20 to 30 productions are filmed in a regular year.

The Island provides prime locations for films of all varieties to shoot, encompassing everything from micro-budget films to blockbusters like Deadpool 2.

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Gilbert expects that once controls are lifted, all the work which was postponed will return, noting that the commission continues to receive requests for location packages from producers preparing for future productions.

“We have spoken to all the producers who had plans for filming in the CRD this summer and the intention for all is that they will return once able to do so,” said Gilbert.

“We also expect that once controls are lifted we are going to need more film industry workers, so we encourage everyone seeking a career or ready to upgrade in this industry to take this time to do as many online courses as they can in order to be ready to work once we are back up and running.”

vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca


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