A new movie being shot in the Okanagan has filmmakers and industry experts excited.
Okanagan film commissioner Jon Summerland says they can't release the title of the film yet but he says the new production is a level-up from the type of shoots we are used to seeing in the Okanagan.
"The scope of the project weighs in at a tier two level production, meaning a budget of $5 million," says a news release from Kelowna Film Studios.
Film industry experts say there has been a shift in film production from traditional hubs like Hollywood and Vancouver to places like the Okanagan.
Kelowna Film Studios opened a 3,200 square-foot space, including a soundstage with professional lighting and sound equipment 10 months ago. Since then bookings have been increasing steadily.
“It was great to see such beautiful sets built within the walls of the Kelowna Film Studios. Every piece of infrastructure we can add to the industry, the bigger our industry will be,” says Summerland.
Kelowna Film Studios owner James Alton is hopeful the expansion will see more tier two productions using the space.
“The city has been pretty regularly seeing productions with budgets in the range of $500,000 to $2,000,000 but this latest film signifies a level up for the region,” said Alton, “It is thrilling to see this happening in real time.”
The growth could also lead to more expansion as Alton says he'd like to see a permanent location for filming in Kelowna.
“It has always been our plan to create a more substantial shooting location in the city to potentially include repurposing an area of the city,” Alton said. “Our vision is a land purchase of 20 acres to create a live-on-lot filming space for film and television purposes built-in proximity to local services.”
More work also attracts skilled workers and professionals to the Okanagan. Producer Norm Coyne—whose films have been broadcast on Super Channel, Amazon and Apple TV—relocated his family to Kelowna last year after seeing the energy of the region.
“The city is well positioned as a sustainable film industry for location shooting. You have an absolutely stunning landscape with a passionate group of talent on the ground,” Coyne says. “Kelowna will see bigger and bigger productions - guaranteed.”
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union has also started training and growing their own talent.
“IATSE 891 takes skill development for burgeoning film communities as a top priority,” said Sano. ”Here in the Okanagan we are excited to resource a growing crew base to showcase the skills and talent that will invite more productions to the valley,“ says IATSE lead organizer Christopher Sano.
Alton hopes having Kelowna Film Studios available as a venue for these sessions will help keep the momentum growing.
“We all need to do our part to keep this energy going,” Alton said. ”People are constantly asking us how they can help. The biggest thing we can all do is show up and connect. Keep the conversation going because Kelowna is going to be huge!”