Film commission seeks cash

The Okanagan Film Commission puts financial request into the Regional District of North Okanagan

The North Okanagan’s starring role in films could dim without an infusion of cash.

That was the warning sent to the Regional District of North Okanagan board by Jon Summerland, with the Okanagan Film Commission, Wednesday.

“We can’t go on with the budget we have,” he said.

“To carry on and sell (the region), I need a little more money.”

The OFC received $24,000 from RDNO last year and it’s seeking $35,000 for 2015.

Summerland says his resources as a one-man office are stretched and scouting locations is becoming more demanding and expensive.

“It costs money to bring people in to scout the area. I have to wine and dine these people,” he said, adding that one of the selling points for the North Okanagan is high-end resorts for cast and crew.

“I high-roll them and spend the money, but it’s working.”

In 2014, 20 TV and movie productions took place in the entire Okanagan, including A Mother’s Day Off in Vernon and Go With Me featuring Anthony Hopkins in Enderby, Vernon and Lumby.

The total economic impact from the 20 productions was $17.5 million, while the film commission’s budget is $180,000.

It’s anticipated a number of other films could visit the region in 2015, including the North Okanagan. Among them is Enderby Entertainment, which is responsible for Go With Me.

“It will be star-studded as well,” said Summerland, adding that the Okanagan is gaining a reputation as being film-friendly.

“In the last three days, I have had three scripts come across my desk.”

Besides production companies spending money at local hotels, restaurants and with suppliers, they hire local crew and there is a long-term impact.

“You’ve had George Clooney (Tomorrowland) and Anthony Hopkins here and you can sell that,” said Summerland of tourists visiting film locations.

Summerland also envisions Tomorrowland leading to a new attraction at Disneyland.

“There could possibly be jetpack rides in Tomorrowland (theme area) with a backdrop that looks like the Enderby Cliffs.”

RDNO will consider the funding request as part of its 2015 budget process.

“This is a fantastic return on investment,” said director Brian Quiring.

“They have shown how to add economic development with little funding.”

Currently, the only RDNO communities funding the Okanagan Film Commission are Armstrong, Coldstream and Vernon.

Along with RDNO, the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen regional districts are also being asked for increased funding.