Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland has a good idea of what the immediate future holds for the film industry in the Okanagan.
“Right now, the next year is looking absolutely fantastic,” said Summerland. “We are no longer a wish, we are a film centre. We’re moving forward and we have the traction.”
The film commissioner said 2021 has been a stellar year, as they brought over 30 productions to the Okanagan.
“It has been an amazing year and it is not over yet. There are three films shooting currently and two more going into production before Christmas,” said Summerland.
The high profile film writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s (District 9) sci-fi/horror film, Demonic, shot in Penticton and Naramata in 2020 and was released in August.
Summerland has his sights set on more movies being made here.
“We offer distinct and unique locations, innovative funding incentives, experienced crews, great infrastructure and amenities,” he said. “With all the assets the region offers, we are looking forward to continuing expansion.”
The indie movie Invasions was filmed in and around Penticton and at the Peach at Okanagan Lake this summer.
The commission wants to bring more television productions to the Okanagan, along with the feature films and romance movies they have already produced.
“The ideal thing for all of us in this industry would be to get television series,” said Summerland. “Maybe one in Penticton, one in Kelowna, one in Summerland to West Kelowna and Lake Country to Vernon. Everyone wants to film here, everyone loves filming here. It’s just about how to keep it going.”
According to Summerland, filming multiple television series in the Okanagan that can be seen on Netflix, Hulu and other premium streaming services is very achievable.
“We’ve done a lot of the Hallmark movies and then Lifetime came up and started sending people up here and now we’re getting more of the movie of the week, romance movies,” Summerland explained. “And not far behind are the action films. It’s just trying to get talent up here from California.”
“They know Vancouver, they know the Lower Mainland, but they’re uncertain about us at the moment. So that’s been the challenge. But that’s changing because producers are now pushing to (come here) because they’re getting so much success filming here.”
“Our sales pitch became, yes we have beauty and yes you can make any type of movie you want here. We match California and the Pacific Northwest really well, but we also hold the crew and we can build the crews.”
There were 32 movies that have been brought to the Okanagan in 2021, Summerland told the Penticton Western News.
The Okanagan Film Commission is expecting to match its 2021 performance in 2022 by bringing just as many productions, while they continue to pursue the goal of bringing a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video production to the area.