The Vancouver Island film industry is picking back up following a four-month shutdown due to COVID-19.

Back on set Monday in Oak Bay was Front Street Pictures, resuming their production of a Hallmark movie Deliver By Christmas. The filming process, which has brought 90 local technicians back to work, looks a little different in the middle of a pandemic, but the crew is making it work.

“They have hand washing stations, they have COVID trained paramedics on-site, they’re taking temperatures, they’re wearing masks,” said South Vancouver Island Film Commissioner Kathleen Gilbert.”

Two other productions, including the latest installment from the Air Bud franchise, could be back shooting by August and a major Netflix series could begin production by September.

COVID-19 may have damaged the Island’s film industry, but the year will not be a complete loss.

“In a normal year, we average between 18 and 20 million dollars. So we expect that we’re probably going to run around 15 million, so it’s not horrible,” Gilbert said.

One show that has not yet announced its return is the Hallmark Channel hit series Chesapeake Shores.

The series has provided a serious spark to the Parksville and Qualicum Beach economy, but factors such as social distancing measures for larger crews and out-of-province quarantine measures could slow some productions.

Last Thursday, the premier made it clear the province wants the industry back up and running as soon as possible.

“In the case of the film industry, we’re going to need to make sure that once the self-isolation period, the quarantine period is of 14 days is expired, those individuals are free to engage in other activities as all British Columbians are,” said John Horgan.

Ben Nesbit