Vancouver’s film and TV industry goes off with a bang





New Westminster’s new Anvil Centre is a modern cultural gathering place on Columbia Street with studios, conference space and a 434-seat theatre.

But it recently took on a different role, becoming the San Francisco headquarters for the notorious Yakuza Japanese criminal organization featured in the gangster film Darc, which wraps up its Metro Vancouver shooting schedule next week.

Similar unique transformations take place throughout Vancouver regularly now as the value of B.C.’s booming film and television production sector hit an estimated record of $2 billion for the year ending March 31, 2015.

(The official figures have not yet been released but Creative BC has confirmed the industry’s production value hit $1.84 billion for the first 11 months of the fiscal year.)

That’s about half a billion dollars more than the previous record set two years ago and many industry observers cite the weak Canadian dollar as the biggest reason for so many U.S. productions setting up shop in B.C.

Renowned director Steven Spielberg is currently filming The BFG (Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant) in Vancouver while shooting ends soon on the Ryan Reynolds film Deadpool, which forced the closure of the Georgia Viaduct for nearly two weeks last month.

Many TV series call Vancouver home — including Once Upon a Time, Motive, The Flash, Cedar Cove, Supernatural, Arrow and iZombie — while other big-budget films expected to show up in the city later this year include Star Trek 3, Tron 3 and another Planet of the Apes feature. Fifty Shades of Grey, which filmed at a number of Metro locations last year, is expected to return next summer (2016).

“The dollar contributes to it; I don’t want to dismiss that,” said Creative BC president Richard Brownsey. “But if you’re not a good filming location, a low dollar is not going to make you one.”

He cited B.C.’s filming infrastructure, predictable tax incentives, talented crews and “solid reputation” built up over the past 25 years as significant factors in driving more film and television production to the province.

“We’re also seeing the development of a whole new sector, visual effects, which really didn’t exist here 10 years ago and now it’s picking up momentum,” Brownsey said.

Some of the projects that have kept Vancouver-based visual effects firms busy recently include Industrial Light & Magic’s work on Star Wars: Episode 7, Image Engine’s work on Jurassic World and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ association with the Angry Birds movie.

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