Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Film commission forecasts major bounce-back for Kamloops after Hollywood strikes

But $33M studio proposal on hold as investor confidence shaken
The Thompson-Nicola film industry is booming after last year's Hollywood strike slowdown, according to commission.

After spending dropped significantly last year due to Hollywood strikes, the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission is predicting the economic impact of production in the region to bounce back to pre-strike numbers — and it's already surpassed last year's total.

Terri Hadwin, film commissioner for the region, said film production resulted in about $18 million in "direct output" in the region in 2022, dropping to $6.25 million last year.

“So a significant drop and we definitely acquaint that to the six months of strikes we had with the writers guild and SAGA after that,” Hadwin told the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Thursday afternoon.

“We’re glad those are over and things are already picking up in 2024.”

In three months, Hadwin said spending for 2024 has already surpassed last year's mark.

She told Castanet the figure encompasses direct output from productions taking place locally.

“It would be hiring crew, it would be heads and beds — so hotel stays — it would be catering, it would be renting equipment, it would be spending money at the shops while they're here,” Hadwin said.

"Then there would also be the spin-off, so people want to come and visit here because maybe they know of a place that was filmed here, maybe somebody has seen a fantastic place to go golfing so they're coming back to come golfing."

Hadwin estimated that the film commission receives on average about 1.5 new messages from productions interested in filming in the region each week.

She said there are nearly 40 projects presently interested in the region, several of which are already lined up to begin filming this summer.

“I have a feeling that we're back on par for like the 2022 year,” she said.

No progress on film studio

Hadwin told the TNRD that while a proposed $33 million film studio would certainly spur growth in the region, the recent strikes have made potential investors wary.

“I think that sometimes it's just always about ill-timing,” she said. “I think that never really sits well because it makes film maybe not seem as safe of a choice as it was.”

She said while a film studio would be a “worthwhile investment,” it still wouldn’t turn a profit within the first couple years. She said by year three or four, the studio could be in the black.

“Hearing from productions, they love our region. They’d stay in our region if they could but they need that infrastructure,” Hadwin said.

“I think that if you look at where we're losing projects to — westerns are a great example of them going to Alberta because of the infrastructure that they have there.”

Hadwin told Castanet there hasn’t been any inquiries from possible investors since before the strikes. She said the film commission hasn’t been able to actively promote the studio to investors due to the strikes and due to the influx of interest in filming in the region.

“If somebody was to call me there's nothing that I wouldn't do to drop everything I was doing to make sure that I was supporting them,” she said.

Region on the big stage

Hadwin said some of the most recent productions to feature the TNRD region include The Test, a documentary by local filmmaker Vesta Giles, and the Apple TV series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters — the TNFC’s “flagship” production filmed in 2022 and released in 2023.

Hadwin said the most recent production in the region to be released is Calamity Jane, which has been released in the U.S. but isn’t yet available to be streamed in Canada.

The region has also recently seen interest from the CBS series Tracker, which aired following the Super Bowl earlier this year.

When a major film shoot could be seen taking place in the Tranquille area in February, online speculation suggested that filming was for the second season of The Last of Us.

At the time, when asked about the online sleuthing, Hadwin said she couldn’t speak to any productions that "may or may not be currently filming in the area right now."