B.C. film fund to pitch locations

The B.C. Film Commission and its regional agencies are building up their library of film locations in an effort to maintain B.C.'s $1 billion film and television industry.

Hatley Castle near Victoria became familiar to movie-goers around the world as a location for the X-Men movie series.

VICTORIA – Do you need a castle for your super-hero action movie? Rolling ranch land for a western?

The B.C. Film Commission and its regional agencies around the province are building up their library of film locations in an effort to maintain B.C.’s $1 billion film and television industry. The provincial government contributed $275,000 to that effort Wednesday, to be shared by film and tourism organizations around the province.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong made the announcement at the Vancouver Island landmark Hatley Castle, which gained fame as a location for the X-Men movie franchise.

B.C. Film Commissioner Susan Croome said if B.C.’s spectacular scenery and movie expertise were presented as a movie, it could be called “Float Planes, Boats and Snowmobiles.”

B.C. has become the third largest film and television production centre in North America, behind only Los Angeles and New York. About 25,000 people work in the B.C. industry.

Peter Leitch, chair of the Motion Picture Industry Association of B.C., said the funds will help local people supply information and pictures for producers matching scripts with possible locations. But as president of North Shore Studios, he is more concerned with the U.S. currency exchange rate and the fate of B.C.’s harmonized sales tax.

Leitch has also served as co-chair of the Smart Tax Alliance, campaigning for people to keep the HST and the sales tax recovery it provides to production companies. B.C. already provides between $130 million and $200 million in refundable tax credits to the film and TV industry to match Ontario’s credits, and losing the HST credits would return the advantage to Ontario for Hollywood movies and TV, he said.

The B.C. government’s new fund is distributed as follows:

B.C. Film Commission: $25,000

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism: $15,000

Columbia Shuswap Regional District: $15,000

Fraser Valley Regional District: $10,000

Greater Victoria Film Commission: $40,000

Kootenay Columbia Film: $30,000

Okanagan Film Commission: $30,000

Northern B.C. Tourism Association: $30,000

Whistler and Squamish municipalities: $10,000

Thompson-Nicola Film Commission: $30,000

Town of Gibsons: $10,000

Vancouver Island North Film Commission: $30,000