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Coronavirus: Okanagan film industry eager to start rolling again

COVID-19: Okangan film industry uniquely positioned to start rolling again

British Columbia’s film and television industry is anxious to get ‘green lit’ again after film and television production around the world came to an immediate stop because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now with the province looking to reopen, Okanagan film industry insiders think the valley is uniquely positioned to get rolling again.

In March, COVID-19 rolled end credits on the Okanagan film industry, an industry that’s worth $27 million annually to the local economy.

But a lot of that money was lost as film production froze and the business faded to black.

‘Hollywood North’ film industry working on ways to go back to work
‘Hollywood North’ film industry working on ways to go back to work

Now with the industry on the verge of restarting, insiders are anxious to get back down to business.

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“September, October is still beautiful,” John Summerland said as he talked on the phone to a Hollywood film producer.

From inside his small Kelowna office, Summerland is hard at work on the comeback story.

“The lighting is still great,” Summerland said while on the phone.

Okanagan film industry busy with seven made for T.V. movies scheduled
Okanagan film industry busy with seven made for T.V. movies scheduled

Summerland is the Okanagan’s film commissioner, though the ‘star‘ of the big production is actually the Okangan film industry itself.

“We could start prepping in mid-May and we could start shooting in June,”  Summerland told Global News on Thursday.

“Film and television production is very close,”  B.C. Premier John Horgan told the province on Wednesday.

Horgan was alluding to the fact that B.C.’s film industry could restart soon due to the work the province and its residents have done flattening the curve.

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Enderby hosts Hollywood movie premiere
Enderby hosts Hollywood movie premiere

“The industry, globally, in every country, is going to operate differently,” said Rick Dugdale of Enderby Entertainment.

Dugdale is a film producer who lives in the valley and favours shooting on location in the Okanagan

His last big film here at home was ‘Blackway’ starring  Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta and Julia Styles

​Dugdale sees the valley as being uniquely positioned to restart B.C.’s Hollywood North namesake.

“I think the Okanagan and B.C., in general, what makes it easier to get back up and running is you don’t have the density of population, of course, and Canada has handled the pandemic so well.”

Movie makers attracted to the Okanagan
Movie makers attracted to the Okanagan

And that makes Dugdale confident that filmmaking in the Okanagan can be produced safely moving forward.

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“The industry will come around to this. We’ll learn how to make movies with less crew, we’ll learn how to operate, how the safety procedures are on set,” Dugdale said.

“We are all just going to adapt and survive because that’s kinda of what filmmakers do.”​