Film Commission rolling
Impressive views of the Coast Mountains, old-growth forest, raging rivers, a rugged Pacific Coastline and one of the most breathtaking highways in the world make the Sea to Sky Corridor a destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
But, over the last decade or so a growing number of them have been lugging along film cameras, grips, sets, lights, directors, producers and actors as the vast vistas of the corridor become backdrops for major films and TV commercials.
They also bring cash - lots of it.
And if the plans for the creation of a Sea to Sky Film Commission come through, more of the movie bucks will stay in the areas where the films are shot, according to Robert Fine, economic development officer for the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Fine says the idea for the creation of the film commission came to be about a year ago when it was apparent the potential for filming in the corridor was barely tapped.
The Sea to Sky Film Commission would establish guidelines, fee structures, policy and procedures for filming done in the area. As well, the commission would actively promote the Sea to Sky Corridor as a film-friendly area.
Fine says the idea would also be to create one set of bylaws and regulations dealing with filming in the three municipalities and the regional district which make up the corridor.
"We have had calls from Seattle and L.A. on a regular basis over the last while for information about the area as a possible location," Fine says. "There is no question about the economic possibilities the film business can bring to the corridor."
An interim group made up of Squamish's Trudy Coates, Diana Waltmann of Whistler, Mark Hunter of Pemberton and an unnamed member from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District are working with the Sea to Sky Economic Development Commission to research the details prior to the creation of the film commission.
Waltmann, an information officer with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, says Whistler is the only municipality in the area which has regulations for filming.
"People who are serious film makers don't have a problem with a fee schedule or some guidelines, it's the low budget ones that complain," Waltmann says.
Municipalities have to put up with increased traffic, land use and access issues when dealing with film crews, so regulations are definitely a good idea, she adds.
In the past two years it is estimated 12 films or television productions have made significant location shoots in the corridor. These include a TV commercial for Saturn cars, Disney's White Fang II, Highlander the TV series, Red Scorpion and others.
In 1978, the film industry produced $12 million in B.C. - a figure that jumped to $63 million in the fist six months of 1993. Over 4,000 British Columbians are employed in the film industry. Film production is considered non-polluting, value-added and provides the world with a moving postcard of life in B.C.
"We've had Richard Gere, Gene Hackman, big time stars filming in the area," Fine says. "The cameras are definitely rolling and it is a question of whether we want to be the director or simply an actor in the whole process."