It’s being hailed as the next step for the Okanagan film industry. A former Vernon factory is being transformed into the region’s first film studio.
The new space paves the way for bigger productions to shoot exclusively in the Okanagan, a development that could mean more steady local work for those in the industry.
Tim Bieber, the entrepreneur behind the project, is betting the film industry will really start to take off in the region.
“We know that the film production industry is here and has come and frequented the area for small to medium-sized productions, but this is a slight gamble, that doing something at this scale is going to start to attract the larger productions. But, I believe it is going to happen,” said Bieber.
The studio’s sound stages serve as blank canvases where productions can create their sets and shoot scenes.
“[They can] bring their set pieces in and create any sort of an internal stage environment for sets, film around the clock, film no matter what is happening outside; the weather, environments, noise,” explained Bieber.
The new studio is expected to make it possible for feature films and television series to film entirely in the region.
Previously, some productions have had to partially shoot on location in the Okanagan and then return to studios in places like the Lower Mainland to complete their project.
“Television series…they can shoot entirely here and therefore employ a lot of people, create a great industry on its own. That’s how Vancouver grew,” said Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland.
Summerland believes the demand is there to support a studio in Vernon.
“There is a great tax incentive [and the] studios on the coast are full,” said Summerland.
Film industry professionals are hoping the new studio will mean work in the Okanagan becomes less sporadic.
“What is going to happen is people are going to be able to go from one project to the other with maybe only two or three weeks of downtime instead of two or three months or two to three years in some cases,” said Marc Nadeau, president of the Okanagan Society of Independent Filmmaking Board.
If those kind of big predictions come true, Bieber has plans for expansion. He plans to create three full sound stages on the lot in Vernon and then build two more studios in other parts of the Okanagan.
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