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Okanagan Film Commission enjoys best year ever
Entertainment companies left behind an estimated $14.5 million in the Okanagan in 2013, according to the fresh statistics from the region’s film commission.
Only about $455,000 was spent in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, but that still marks a tremendous return on investment during what one of the commission’s leaders claimed was an off-year in this area.
“In years past, the South (Okanagan) has gotten the lion’s share of movies,” said Andrew Jakubeit, a Penticton city councillor who sits on the board of the Okanagan Film Commission.
“It ebbs and flows.
“Osoyoos still got, I think, three movies and two TV series done.
“Summerland and Penticton got little parts of a movie.
“We just didn’t get the big, glorious Hollywood movies last year.”
Jakubeit also sits on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, which last year contributed $30,000 to the film commission’s $217,000 budget.
The RDOS has included in its 2014 draft budget another $30,000 for the commission.
“It’s the one form of regional economic development that we all seem to agree on, and has shown a proven track record of being effective (at developing) a growing, clean industry,” said Jakubeit.
Film commissioner Jon Summerland, who presented a year-end report last week to the RDOS board, said the highlight of 2013 was an estimated $3.3-million spent by Disney Movies, which shot parts of Tomorrowland in the North Okanagan.
The film, due out in 2015, stars George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, who were supported by a 300-member crew that was in the Enderby area for the better part of a month.
Summerland said he has so far lined up five smaller movies-of-the-week to shoot in the Okanagan in 2014.
“Right now we don’t have anything that’s like a Tomorrowland … but all the movies that we do have coming will hire locally,” he added.
“They haven’t found their locations yet, so they’re looking top to bottom, which is great for us.”
A larger production is also planned for the South Okanagan next winter.
“I can’t get into who and what it is, but it’s about $5 million” in production spending, he said, adding it could be pushed into early 2015 because its makers require a “desolate, cold winter feel.”
Also of note last year, said Summerland, was the estimated $3.7 million in spending on animation projects at studios in Kelowna.
Besides animated movies, the work is featured in special effects for live-action films and video games, he explained, and is a rapidly growing segment of the entertainment business.
“If you’re kid doesn’t know what he wants to do in life, animation is a good career,” Summerland said.
“To start off, sure, you’re going to make $25,000 (annually) getting people’s coffee, but the average animator makes $65,000 a year and then you can move up from there.”
He pointed out that Okanagan College now offers animation courses that can have people ready to work in the field in a matter of months.