The last few weeks have been a busy time for the film industry in the Penticton area.
NHL’er Carey Price was in town last month to shoot an Under Armour commercial, and A&W dropped by the Penticton river channel last week to shoot another TV commercial, but this latest project is going to make stars of some of the inhabitants of Andy’s Animal Acres in Naramata.
“It’s been quite busy for that area for the last month or so, and there are still more and more looking,” said Jon Summerland, the Okanagan film commissioner.
The Orchard, is writer/director Kate Twa’s second film and stars Matt Angel (R.L Stine’s The Haunting Hour, CSI Miami and CSI NY) as Max Roth, a brash Los Angeles talent agent who unexpectedly inherits a small orchard in the B.C. interior.
He travels to B.C., wanting to make a quick sale of the property to developers, but his life changes when he finds himself falling in love with the landscape, the quirky townsfolk and a firebrand activist, Olivia Cunningham (played by Morgan Taylor Campbell), who is hellbent on stopping the sale.
“It was really fun, the whole experience. Our farm name is actually being used in the script. Lots of scenes with the animals,” said Andréa (Andy) Buyan, owner of Andy’s Animal Acres. “With putting this area on the radar for more films and more exposure, it can only mean great things to our community and the economy. All around, I think it is fantastic.”
Summerland describes The Orchard as a small film, with a budget around the $1 million mark — a major feature, by contrast, would have a budget starting at $100 million.
But even that $1 million dollar budget means big things for the local economy. Summerland said putting a figure to how much is spent locally.
“It is one of those things that is really hard to trace,” said Summerland. “It’s probably more in the $40,000 (per day) area.”
That would mean that over the 10 days The Orchard spent shooting in the Okanagan, about $400,000 was invested in the valley economy.
Films in the $1 million to $5 million range, according to Summerland, are ideal for building the Okanagan film industry, since they usually hire local crews – larger productions usually bring their own crews.
“The more of these films you get, the more people get trained,” he said. “Then you are paying mortgages.”
Summerland said there are more projects in the pipeline, large and small, but bound by non-disclosure agreements, he is as mysterious as always when it comes to talking about the filmmakers he tours through the area scouting locations. However, one group he is working with has him very excited.
“Next week’s scout is by far the biggest thing we have had,” said Summerland. “They are looking top to bottom south to north. It will be a long term project if we get it, wherever it lands.”
Next month, he said, another film project is coming to Penticton to shoot scenes at two different locations, probably near the end of September.
“The Okanagan is gaining a great reputation as the place to film. We have built up a strong crew base and infrastructure here, and can accommodate any production that wants to come to our region. We are so pleased to have back-to-back productions this year bringing revenue and recognition to our region,” said Summerland.
For more information on the Okanagan Film Commission visit www.okanaganfilm.com.