The South Island Film and Media Commission, which works to attract productions such as the TV series Gracepoint, shown here filming in Oak Bay in 2014, is helping business and municipalities to create a film studio. (Black Press Media file photo)

Five Greater Victoria sites under consideration for region’s first film studio

Saanich mayor pushes for creation of a studio in Greater Victoria

Work is underway to finally build a proper film studio in Greater Victoria.

The demand for a film studio has been around for years, almost as long as the rumours, said Kathleen Gilbert, commissioner of the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission.

“We get calls on a regular basis from shows, from studios, looking for the kind of studio space we can’t provide, and we’ve definitely lost shows because of that in the past.”

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes pledged during his 2018 election campaign that he would work to bring a long-rumoured film studio into the region, if not Saanich.

READ MORE: Mayor elect wants to study idea of adding film studio, hockey arena to Saanich

It’s all part of a multi-pronged approach to expand Saanich’s economic base, said Haynes.

“It’s about creating a high knowledge-, culture- and sports-based economy. To do this we can look at opportunities for film studios, a velodrome, a new ice hockey surface, hotels, an IT hub and an entertainment-Casino complex.”

Saanich staff confirmed five locations are currently being considered, though a studio could also go elsewhere.

“With regard to the film studio we are already seeing considerable interest from investors, land holders and the creative and digital communities,” Haynes said.

READ ALSO: Third rink needed immediately at Pearkes, users say

Gilbert expects that a film studio could be up and running by 2020.

“There are a number of groups crunching numbers, looking for land, whether it’s a retrofit building, or a new purpose-built. One of those groups will be successful,” Gilbert said. “Production companies struggle to use it. We need a purpose-built studio.”

Without a proper studio the Roundhouse in Vic West has likely hosted more shows than it would have as it has electrical, heat and hydro issues. In the late 1990s film crews shot in what Gilbert called “an oversized shed” on DND property.

Over the last year at least three different film companies have used the vacant Canadian Tire space off Douglas Street but it’s nowhere near adequate, Gilbert said.

Ideally, a studio would be located within range of the airport and ferries but also close enough to five star restaurants and hotels for the liking of marquee talent.

“If big stars are coming to live in your region for years at a time they’ll want hotels and restaurants to go to and to take their families to,” Gilbert said. “A lot goes into the location. For one thing, you can’t have actors stuck in traffic, so you want the best package overall.”

Gilbert and representatives from the commission are heading to L.A. to line up tenants for the new studio.

“When we go, we are trying to find a company that is looking for a place to call home such as Netflix, or Disney, who has a good television series that will employ people for eight months of the year.”

The way a studio would work can vary. There are family-run studios on the Lower Mainland that started with retro-fit warehouses, while there is also the 15-acre Bridge Studio outside Vancouver that the province built and ran until it sold privately in 2007.

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Woman injured during West Shore RCMP arrest prompts police watchdog investigation

IIO investigating to determine if police action or inaction linked to woman’s injuries

VIDEO: ‘Life-saving’ Fix-A-Heart campaign hits $40,000 two weeks in

Canadian Tire on track to surpass 2018 donation of $41,445

Victoria Foundation’s community grants support 109 local non-profits

Foundation delivers $2.8 million in grant money to local organizations

UPDATED: Saanich structure fire sparked in child daycare

Motorists advised to avoid the area of the highway, Glanford Avenue, Royal Oak Drive and Quadra Street off ramp

Invasive English holly poses threat to Island’s eco-system

Not so jolly holly, say consrvationists, as invasive species attacks indigenous plants

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Sooke’s École Poirier students win B.C. Hydro Power Smart contest

More than 100 schools compete in province-wide competition

Most Read