Despite a slight decline in the number of productions filming on the West Shore compared to previous years, the local film commission says there’s still lots of interest.
“It’s been a bit slow. Last year was definitely a great year for the West Shore,” said Kathleen Gilbert, film commissioner of the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission. “We’ll see what happens in the fall. We don’t have anything to announce yet, but we have a lot of people looking.”
In 2017, a number of productions brought some high profile celebrities to the western communities. Last summer, Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds was spotted filming Deadpool 2 at Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University in Colwood, and in August Johnny Depp was spotted filming scenes for his movie Richards Says Goodbye at the Italian Gardens also at the university.
While there haven’t been any major celebrity sightings yet this year, there are productions in the works.
In February, Taylor Road in Metchosin was one of many sites transformed into scenes for the Hallmark movie, Once Upon A Prince starring Megan Park and Jonathan Keltz.
Hatley Castle continues to be a popular spot for productions as well. Gilbert said a movie called The Big Sleep was filmed there, as well as the kick off of the Amazing Race Canada’s Heroes Edition.
Most recently, cast and crew were at the lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site in June filming scenes for the Netflix show Van Helsing, starring Kelly Overton and Jonathan Scrafe, in which a woman wakes up after three years in a coma to a world ravaged by vampires.
Areas close to the West Shore are gaining traction for movie productions as well. Gilbert says there has been a lot of interest in the East Sooke and Beecher Bay area for productions shooting next year with a “post-apocalyptic” feeling.
“We’ve had a lot of people that are looking for wilderness, post-apocalyptic types of shows and it seems to be a trend right now,” Gilbert said. “Twice now we’ve shown the old Hydro building in Jordan River because they’re looking for areas that don’t show a lot of population or signs of life. That coast is just beautiful in terms of looking so remote.”
Having a strong film industry bodes well for the economy, said Gilbert, noting there were roughly 952 residents of the Capital Regional District that made $20 million working in the film industry last year.
“That’s $20 million that people are bringing home and spending in our community. That’s a huge benefit,” she said, noting that doesn’t necessarily mean all those productions were filmed on Vancouver Island as crews often go to Vancouver to work as well.