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UPDATE: Movie filming brings big bucks to Chilliwack
When large studio film crews roll into a community, their presence can be seen as both a blessing and a nuisance.
Location managers and the many production assistants who work hard to negotiate with local businesses and keep an active city clear of unwanted cars and people during shots are used to at least a little backlash.
Detoured drivers yell at crew members blocking main thoroughfares.
Some business owners decry a lull in business during shooting.
But shops downtown have been compensated, if modestly, for the disruptions, and the temporary inconveniences are far outweighed by the direct and indirect economic impact the film industry can have on a city, according to those involved.
For five days last week, the 2015 Paramount film Monster Trucks shot scenes in the core of Chilliwack, bringing 300 crew members to town as “cat and mouse” car chase scene were filmed on city streets.
Crews are scheduled to be back in town for three more days May 26 to 28.
Wayne Price of Virtual Broadcast Network is a member of the Chilliwack film commission and he says while it’s hard to pin down exact numbers, the benefit to the community is huge.
“It is estimated a film this size can bring into a local economy anywhere between $500,000 to $750,000 for the period of days of actual shooting and the prep work before and after the filming is done,” Price said.
“This film being shot in Chilliwack has a crew size of 300 and they all are staying in local hotels, where they spend their per diem on food, drinks, et cetera.”
Price said the downtown Royal Hotel was booked solid with crew members also staying at the Coast, the Hampton Inn and the Best Western.
“They buy materials from local suppliers and catering buys fresh produce and meats from local vendors. Local businesses from building contractors to background performers are used. The list goes on.”
And sometimes, crew members go above and beyond in ways that are hard to believe.
One member of the crew, who did not want her name used in the paper, told the Times about an event last week that led to an act of charity for a down-on-their-luck family. It started when the family from Harrison Hot Springs stopped at Common Exchange Pawn Brokers on Victoria Avenue, trying to get a $20 loan for a broken laptop, according to employee Tammy Howse.
The couple with a five-year-old boy then couldn’t start their vehicle. Someone from the film crew overheard the problem and called over one of the many mechanics on set to see if he could help.
The crew member described to the Times what happened next: The “car guy” as she described him, realized the vehicle needed a part so he drove to Abbotsford to get it. He came back, put it in the vehicle and it still wouldn’t start.
In the meantime, the crew member gave the family gift certificates to local restaurants and to Sticky’s Candy.
The end was result was that one of the film company’s drivers had a car he wasn’t using so he gave it to the family free of charge.
“This was just the film crew doing it out of the goodness of their hearts,” Price said.
“Between our store and the film crew, we helped out the best way we could,” Howse said.
The crew member who told the story—which “made some of the girls almost cry”—said it was an example of the good things they sometimes do above and beyond.
“We’re doing a good job here,” she said. “You know? More people need to be aware.”
Another thing to consider, according to Price, and something that is impossible to calculate, is the long-term benefits of having a popular movie filmed in the city.
Monster Trucks may not exactly be First Blood, but Hope still sees tourists visit just to see where the character John Rambo roamed the streets during filming of the 1982 movie.
“It may bring a bit of inconvenience to a few but over the long term we all benefit,” Price said.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz added that the filming has been a real team effort for all the local agencies involved.
“I appreciate all the hard work CEPCO, the film commission and the downtown BIA have put into this opportunity and am glad we have such strong partners working together to benefit our community,” she said via email.
Online movie database website IMDb.com reports that Monster Trucks, set for release in 2015, has an estimated budget of $125 million and stars, among others, Rob Lowe and Danny Glover.
The last three days of filming in Chilliwack are scheduled for May 26 to 28. And those involved in the production say that is when the principal actors will be in town.