The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)

Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

  • Nov. 27, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Stoppage of Chesapeake Shores filming due to COVID-19 restrictions cost the central Vancouver Island region a potential $6 million in economic impact, says the area’s film commissioner.

Vancouver Island North Film Commission, a non-profit servicing an area from Ladysmith to Cape Scott, is asking for $50,000 annually from the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Joan Miller, INFilm commissioner, made a presentation to the RDN committee of the whole Tuesday, saying 2020 started strong, coming off back-to-back of record-breaking economic impact numbers. A number of productions, in various levels of preparation, were lining up to work throughout the region for the rest of 2020, but production was halted in March because of the pandemic, Miller said.

Amblin Televison’s Resident Alien series began filming in Ladysmith in January with crew staying in Nanaimo, according to information Miller provided to the RDN. As well, Amblin and Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Dominion began filming in February near Parksville-Qualicum and electoral areas C and F and the Screen Siren TV series from Bell Media began filming in Nanaimo in March.

Productions filmed in the mid Island between Jan. 1-March 12 saw approximately $425,000 in local impact, not including Jurassic World – “we are still under a non-disclosure agreement with them,” Miller said – nor Chesapeake Shores.

Chesapeake Shores Season 5 … was just opening their Parksville office when COVID shut them down. Producer Matt Drake shared his budget numbers allowing us to see what the local impact would’ve been, which is roughly $6 million, with approximately 10,000 room nights.”

In late June, the B.C. government announced film productions could resume and Miller said between Sept. 1 and Nov. 24, three productions – Screen Siren, Resident Alien and Miss Persona, a TV series out of Toronto – filmed in the RDN area with $375,000 in local impacts. A luxury car commercial is set to film in the area in December, although it could be affected by travelling restrictions, said Miller.

Chesapeake Shores committed to filming 10 episodes in the RDN area in the spring, something Miller said she was happy about.

“We’re really excited about Chesapeake Shores continuing with their commitment to return … it’s a four-month commitment, with an expanded season,” Miller told the News Bulletin. “We’re in touch them regularly, once a week, [and] they’re anxious to get back in.”

In February, Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog, a movie based on the video game of the same name that was partially filmed in Ladysmith, saw its worldwide release.

The RDN board is in the midst of budget deliberations.

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