For decades the Okanagan has been heralded for its lush landscapes, it’s sparkling lakes, and let’s not forget it’s award winning wine. It’s top of the list when it comes to summer vacation spots and equally as high-ranked when it comes to winter play destinations.
But a place to make movies?
Why bother with its ‘big sister’ Vancouver, just a stone’s throw away?
Vancouver has the resources, locations, and the studios in place, and yet recently more and more teams from around the world are flocking to Kelowna and its outlying areas to film.
We sat down with the Okanagan Film Commissioner, Jon Summerland to help us see what the draw is, and the answer quite simply is that the Okanagan is a hidden gem.
As the Okanagan Film Commission website boasts, “From mountains to main streets, industry to vineyards, we have a wide range of beautiful and picturesque locations. The Okanagan Valley offers the most interesting and unique scenery in Western Canada that is begging to be photographed.”
Not only is it true, it seems that the gem that is the Okanagan isn’t so hidden anymore.
With over 300 sunny days per year people are starting to notice how great filming in Kelowna can be.
In addition, there are tremendous film incentives for companies that film in the Okanagan. Companies can receive up to 53.5% credit for money spent for labour on all productions filmed, and for animation or special effects shows the credit is as high as 69.5%. To qualify, at least 51% of the production must be made in the Okanagan.
As for the resources to tap into, in addition to a wide variety of skilled crew to choose from the Okanagan boasts the largest soundstage outside of the Lower Mainland, purpose-built solely for film and video productions. The brand new $3.5M facility includes 6,000-s.f. of office space and a 15,000-s.f. soundstage with clear-span 40-foot high ceilings allowing for bigger productions and TV series to be based in Kelowna.
And it seems that people are starting to notice. Summerland noted that the next twelve months look very promising. “While it’s hard to predict it looks like it’s going to be a great year.”
“With increased production in our area, it’s just another tool in our toolbox” he continued. “And as word continues to spread that this is a great place to film, more and more people will come and film here as well.”
As for advice to filmmakers looking to join the ranks of others that have filmed here, he says “they’re lucky”.
“There are lots of experienced people to have on your team and a lot of resources. Anyone who’s looking to film in the Okanagan has already made a good choice. You’re already ahead of the game.”
With a variety of amazing locations, some of the best light in Canada, and lots of resources to bring to vision to reality, filming in the Okanagan is the logical choice.