WATCH: Plans intensify for a Victoria movie studio, which would be a game-changer for the film and TV industry and could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. Tess van Straaten reports.
Movie-making is big business and some entrepreneurs are hoping to cash in on the film and TV action by bringing a much-needed movie studio to Victoria.
“It’s not a question of why, but rather why not? Why hasn’t this happened yet?” asks Shafik Chernovsky of Partnered Films, which is hoping to open a movie studio in Victoria.
“There’s been a lot of big name movies that wanted to come and unfortunately because of the lack of studio space they couldn’t build so they went elsewhere.”
Partnered Films is one of three groups actively pursuing the studio dream.
They’re currently scouting land in several Greater Victoria locations, but the most promising is a nine-acre property with a massive warehouse on the Saanich Peninsula.
“It’s got the high ceilings we need, lots of parking and it just needs a little bit of refurbishing,” Chernovsky says. “There’s also the office space which is really important to a lot of productions and pushes the smaller productions away because they can’t find short-term leases for production offices.”
With the project estimated to be in the $40 to $60 million range, finding funding isn’t easy.
However, Partnered Films say they have investors lined up for the development — they just need angel investors to help with the land but the economic impact for the region could be huge.
“Hollywood blockbusters, their budgets are often $100 million or even up to as much as $200 million so the economic benefit of that is normally about 40 per cent that they spend locally if they shoot the entire production here so that’s a game-changer for Victoria,” says South Island film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert.
Studio needed to land a TV series in Victoria
A studio is also needed to attract a TV series and with Vancouver experiencing a record-breaking year and turning productions away, insiders say it’s perfect timing for a Victoria studio.
“I think this is really the time to do it — strike when the iron is hot, as they say,” Gilbert says. “We have all of these productions and studios in Vancouver that are booked three years in advance.”
The other two studio groups aren’t yet going public.
Partnered Films is hoping the community will get behind its project and if successful, they hope to have the production office space ready for the start of pilot season in February and the studio fully operational in 2017 or early 2018.