Film productions coming to the area will once again be a huge economic driver for the region once we get through this pandemic, according to Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission.

Film productions coming to the area will once again be a huge economic driver for the region once we get through this pandemic, according to Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission.

North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

Like all other industries, it seems, the filmmaking business has had a tumultuous last 12 months or so, especially here on Vancouver Island.

With mandatory quarantining for anyone coming over the border and travel of any distance, not to mention gatherings of any size discouraged by all levels of government, it hasn’t been a great time for an industry that was already booming – and still growing – in our region.

But according to Joan Miller, commissioner for the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission (InFilm), there’s room for optimism.

“We went from feast to famine due to COVID,” Miller says, “but hopefully we’re ramping back up to feast again.”

For example, InFilm is currently still under a non-disclosure agreement with Apple TV surrounding its production of See – starring Jason Momoa – back in late 2018 and early 2019. However, Miller says she did have permission to share a few statistics.

“They had 19,000 room nights, paid $3.5 million to local vendors, $3.2 million in local payroll – which for us really showed the work that we’re doing growing and training our crew and providing opportunities for local people to get jobs when these productions come to town,” Miller says.

And there were more of those productions looking at coming to town before the whole world was thrown into flux by a global pandemic.

“In 2020 we had some really wonderful productions that were geared up and looking at this region, but as of March 13, everything came to a halt,” Miller says.

But instead of lamenting what might have been, Miller and her team “pivoted and got working on things that we could control,” with a specific focus on training programs and keeping lines of communication open with production companies to be able to land them back here once they’re ready to start shooting.

A big part of Miller’s optimism comes not only from the fact that the region – pre-pandemic – was showing growth in interest levels from production companies and she expects that to rebound once things get back to normal, but also from the number of people in the region who are taking advantage new training programs through North Island College (NIC).

“We developed these four pilot projects back in 2018, and we delivered eight cohorts of them in-person. They were very successful and people (who have taken them) have gone on and are working in the industry.

“Some of them are moving up into key roles.”

But when those training opportunities went dormant as in-class learning was cancelled, Miller sat down with the folks at NIC “to look into the opportunities to take some of that training and pivot it online.”

After being successful in a few grant proposals, Miller says, “we’ve now been heads-down for the last four or five months building programs that pivot to online and we now have three production assistant programs with 150 people doing that from our region. We’re really ramping up our local talent.”

You can find out more about InFilm’s work online at and see why Vancouver Island is quickly becoming a go-to destination for film crews looking for unique and beautiful locations.

“We’re really getting to the next level,” Miller says.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Aquaman star spotted around Campbell River as production ramps up on See

RELATED: TV and film crew training returns to NIC

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

It takes much more than having talent as a singer or musician to pull off a live performance people will remember, says Sooke resident Jason Parsons. (
Vancouver Islander writes the book on live performances

Jason Parsons’ new book unlocks the keys to establishing a presence on stage

VIU’s ‘Portal’ magazine is turning 30 years old. (Image courtesy Chantelle Calitz)
Vancouver Island University’s literary magazine ‘Portal’ celebrates 30 years

Virtual launch featuring contributor readings took place April 30

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Saanich author Hannalora Leavitt hopes her new book, This Disability Experience, helps to dispel the ‘otherness’ that often surrounds people with disabilities. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Vancouver Island author demystifying disability and dismantling otherness

Hannalora Leavitt, who lives with a visual impairment, wants to change how people look at disability

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping to stage outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Members of A Cappella Plus rehearse for a ’60s-themed concert in 2019. This year the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s A Cappella Plus chorus marks 40 years with short documentary

Film covers group’s history, features performance and behind-the-scenes video

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Most Read