Published On: Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Construction Started On Vancouver Island Film Studios in Parksville

Construction Started On Vancouver Island Film Studios in Parksville
"They come for a specific look that they can’t find in the lower mainland but usually scurry back to Vancouver as fast as they can due to the high cost of accommodation and per diem for the crew.” - Joan Miller, Regional Film Commissioner for INfilm

PARKSVILLE – Lights, camera, action!

Vancouver Island Film Studios officially announced on October 19 that construction is underway on six buildings at 925 Fairdowne Road that will give the island its first dedicated film production facility when it opens in 2018.

It couldn’t be introduced at a more opportune time, as Chesapeake Shores, one of Hallmark’s top-rated television series, has been filming on the Island for the past two seasons and is committed to working at the new studio for the upcoming season.

Ron Chiovetti is the owner Vancouver Island Film Studios, which will feature six separate buildings next to other businesses he’s involved with: Island Golf Cars and Guy Garages.

"For the past two years I have been providing services to the television series

Chesapeake Shores," says Vancouver Island Film Studios developer Ron Chiovetti.

"The film studio is an exciting new project for my company. It's not an area I imagined myself expanding into at this time, but you never know what fate has in store for you,” he notes.

“The studio complements the two other businesses on my property, GuyGarages and Isle Golf Cars. Productions have been using both so I decided to marry them all and take advantage of the growth in the film and television sector."

The announcement thrilled Joan Miller, Regional Film Commissioner for INfilm (Vancouver Island North Film Commission), whose hard work promoting film production has resulted in a number of productions siting on the Island that have been spending significantly with local companies in terms of wages paid, and products and.

“All the pieces are coming together: A television series, a pilot crew training initiative, unique locations, film friendly communities, regional and distant tax incentives and now a purpose built film studio,” Miller states.

Mid/north Vancouver Island has been attracting commercials, documentaries and small and large films for years, including movies like Godzilla, War For The Planet Of The Apes and Superman.

“They come for a specific look that they can’t find in the lower mainland but usually scurry back to Vancouver as fast as they can due to the high cost of accommodation and per diem for the crew,” says Miller. “The first question they ask relates to ʻlocations’, but the very next is always ‘Do you have a local crew base and infrastructure?’ Soon there will be.”

Miller notes that Chesapeake Shores was the first television to bring its entire production schedule to the Island.

“We are very grateful to Matt Drake and Dan Paulson, the Producers,” says Miller. “We are two seasons in, and if ratings tell us anything, this show has more seasons to come.”

Drake told the crowd gathered for the announcement that Chesapeake Shores spent $2.6 Million in payroll on the Island this year, over 50 per cent of which was on local employees. Vendors booked 10,000 room nights in accommodation, spending $642,000 in building rentals and fees, and $500,000 in staff per diems. Last year’s total spend was $2.3 Million, and this year it will be $5.5 Million.

“We are really, really excited about Vancouver Island Film Studios and the potential it has for us,” Drake says.

The future also looks bright for other film-related companies based on the island. Campbell River-based Earworm Sound recently took home a coveted Best Sound Leo award for their work on Coyote Science.

Carrow Kaese Casting of Nanaimo is providing hundreds of jobs for local background extras, Spotlight Studio is training talent and Extreme Eatz in Qualicum Beach invested in a catering truck to work on productions.

“Vancouver Island Film Studios is the icing on the cake”, says Miller, “it is not a case of build it and they will come. The industry must have taken root to support a facility of this type and we have strong roots.”