A shooting location for the film Invasions on Lower Bench Road on Aug. 13, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

A shooting location for the film Invasions on Lower Bench Road on Aug. 13, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

Okanagan Film Commission seeing big success with $44M in 2021 economic activity

There 32 films that shot entirely in the Okanagan in 2021

Last year was a banner year for the film industry in the Okanagan and 2022 is looking to be the same.

The head of the Okanagan Film Commission, Jon Summerland, presented a report on 2021’s stats alongside his yearly request for funding from the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

There were 63 locations in the Okanagan requested for filming, and 32 films worth over $43 million in local spending that were shot in the valley.

“We had a lot of Christmas, a lot of [Movies of the Week], a lot of Valentines,” Summerland told the RDOS directors.

The Okanagan has also landed more film companies with regular interest in the region. In addition to Hallmark and Lifetime, which often film in the region, Harlequin is set to start filming in the area, and two small budget film companies are planning likewise.

There is also an unannounced $25-million film set to start shooting sometime this year in Penticton that Summerland wasn’t ready to share, with negotiations still ongoing.

“I see this region as ripe for what you are doing,” said Ron Obirek, the RDOS director for Okanagan Falls. “I can tell you, I’ve met people in OK Falls who have gotten work, and they’re not actors, they’re so happy. You’re bringing pleasure and work to the community.”

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In addition to local residents and crews being part of live-action films, Summerland pointed to the Okanagan as a growing location for animators to be based – one of the few benefits of the pandemic and health restrictions.

“They’re working on shows in England, they’re working on shows in Bangkok, they’re working on shows all over because they’re working remotely,” said Summerland.

He noted that many local studios had their talent poached by bigger companies like Sony, which he said had benefits of giving them better pay but also taking up their work and time.

Summerland also presented in the upcoming Take 2 event the commission is putting on from July 22 to 25, which gives 200 attendees in Penticton a chance to learn everything from camera work and grip skills, to making sets and shooting films in the Okanagan to better educate and provide local qualified labour.

This year will be partnered with the Penticton Indian Band, which will also be working on promotion and distributing some of the tickets.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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