It’s no secret that the Okanagan offers stunning views, and because of it, many filmmakers are catching on.
2022 was a big year for filmmaking in the Okanagan, with close to $70 million spent shooting 46 films throughout the region — a substantial increase from 2021, when the industry brought in $44 million.
“You can come here and shoot lots of movies, you can do it for cheap. It’s beautiful, the lighting is amazing, you know we have all the infrastructure now,” described Jon Summerland, the Okanagan’s film commissioner.
“Everything you’d need to make movies — multiple movies in fact at a time.”
Summerland added that the Okanagan has become one of B.C.’s “hot spots” when it comes to the silver screen.
“We are definitely the place to come make your movies now,” said Summerland.
“In British Columbia we are growing the fastest, so that says something. It means that we can do it. I would say that we are number two in the growth of the industry in British Columbia.”
The Okanagan has built a reputation when it comes to holiday-themed movies being shot here. It’s not uncommon to see parts of the city streets of Kelowna decked out in Christmas ornaments and lights in the middle of July for the set of a movie, but Summerland says other genres are starting to pick up steam.
“Even when its 40 degrees we’re still hearing ‘Merry Christmas.’ The Hallmarks and the Lifetimes, those shows are always a big deal, but we’re also getting a lot of independent features and bigger features,” said Summerland.
“The Okanagan also looks like certain places. We can be Northern California, we can be Mexico, we can be a lot of places that you wouldn’t expect, and we can do it for much cheaper.”
Rick Dugdale is a film producer originally from Enderby, B.C.. His most recent work is a movie called Zero Contact. The entire film was shot virtually in 17 different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic — a first of its kind for the film industry.
“We came up with the idea of the film in the beginning of the pandemic, trying to figure out how to shoot a film in one place, ultimately, if you have to do it all remotely,” explained film producer, Rick Dugdale.
“We came up with the idea and of course it worked — that spawned part two and part three which we’re currently in pre-production on right now.”
Dugale started up a production company in Beverly Hills back in 2006, naming it Enderby Entertainment to pay tribute to his hometown. Since its inception, its produced 18 feature films.
In 2020, Dugdale went back to his Okanagan roots, opening up a new studio in Kelowna.
“I’d been waiting over 20 years to do something like this,” said Dugdale.
“It’s a smaller studio that’s mostly focusing on post-production and visual effects, but really it’s kind of become our headquarters, where we’re looking to maybe expand and see what we can do there to really help grow the infrastructure and increase the volume of our own productions back in the Okanagan.”
Summerland said that despite the Okanagan’s steady rise in the film world, the Fraser Valley continues to be the province’s number one destination for on-screen productions.