Ever saw a scene in a movie and thought, “Hey, I know that place.” Well, get used to it, because you’ll see it a lot more.
Already a film industry darling, Sooke’s Prestige hotel became the star location of the latest movie to be filmed here last week, The Convenient Groom, a romantic comedy.
The story goes that a young celebrity marriage counsellor finds herself abandoned at the altar of her own highly publicized wedding. To save face, she accepts an offer from her building contractor – who secretly has a crush on her – to step in as groom and marry her.
The movie stars Vanessa Marcil and David Sutcliffe. Marcil, an American actor, is best known for her TV roles as Brenda Barrett on General Hospital and Beverly Hills, 90210. Sutcliffe, a Canadian actor, is notably known for playing Christopher Hayden on the show Gilmore Girls.
Based on a book of the same name, the action takes place in Nantucket, Mass. at a colonial-era hotel called the White Elephant, which the Prestige holds a close resemblance to.
“The Prestige looks as similar as we could get to it, so we booked it,” said the film’s production manager Darren Robson, adding that while they had the main setting, it was hard to find the rest of the Nantucket look such as the sand and wispy grass.
But they figured that one out too.
“We ended up rewriting it into the Pacific northwest. Sooke is such a beautiful location that we decided to keep it, since most of the movie takes place here anyway.”
Other filming locations around Sooke also included the Whiffin Spit and the ALR Beach in East Sooke, where the final scene of the movie was filmed (hint: it includes sand castles). The rest was shot in Deep Cove and Fort Langley.
Robson said it was the hospitality and peacefulness in Sooke that drew many impressions from the film crew.
“It was a good experience, so I would definitely say it’s worth coming back to Sooke.”
This year was still a slow start for the film industry on the Island though, considering last year there were a record-breaking 24 movies filmed in the Capital Region, said Kathleen Gilbert, Vancouver Island film commissioner.
With two films in the bag so far, Gilbert said the ups and downs are common in an industry that is unpredictable.
“We’re getting a lot of requests for location pictures and many requests for familiarization tours, so the office is very busy, it’s just that things are not landing as quickly as we’d hoped,” she said, adding that there are still a few movies looking “very good” for this summer.
There is also something unique Sooke has that a lot places don’t: a natural charm that can’t really be replicated anywhere else.
“Sooke has some amazing locations that work for some pictures, certainly when they want a more wilderness look, so we send out Sooke a lot when it’s a small town,” Gilbert said.
The Sooke Harbour House, potholes and East Sooke Park are popular filming locations, along with the Whiffin Spit and the Sooke Regional Museum. Gilbert added that the museum’s lighthouse is an ideal spot as it is one of the few that offers ample interior room.
Without a studio on the Island though, don’t expect the next Star Wars movie to be filmed here.
“We don’t really get the big budget films here, we get television movies, low-budget features, fair amount of documentaries,” Gilbert said, adding that the Island’s bread and butter are television movies.
Still, last year, the Island’s film industry brought in $20 million into the local economy, which is everything from crew, gas, food and accommodations to rental cars.
“We have at least 200 people that work regularly full time in the industry here in Victoria, so as long as we’re busy here, they’re buying houses, they’re buying televisions, they’re investing locally.”
As for Robson, he returned to Burnaby with his crew, already preparing to shoot their next movie.
Sooke will also appear in the credits, along with a thank you to the Prestige and the community of Sooke.