It’s one of the most enjoyable political appointments of John Trainor’s 17-year local government career.
And the merriment will continue for the Armstrong councillor, who was named chairperson of the Okanagan Film Commission for a third straight term at the commission’s annual general meeting.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Trainor. “The Okanagan Film Commission operates on such a miniscule budget that the amount of business we’ve been able to bring to the Okanagan is amazing.”
More than 10 years ago, circa 2002, the commission’s annual budget was $325,000. That has been pared considerably.
In 2011-12, the budget – with money coming from the province and the regional districts of North and Central Okanagan, plus Okanagan-Similkimeen and Boundary-Kootenay – was $195,500.
The budget went up to $211,500 for 2012-13, yet brought in $27.5 million to the Okanagan, Similkimeen and Boundary regions.
The proposed budget for 2013-14 is $235,000.
Thanks to 15 film, animation and commercial shoots in the books for this year, the film commission has already surpassed last year’s total by $1 million with $28.5 million already in.
Companies such as Kia and Manulife Financial have already been to the region to shoot high-end commercials and have left. Others are still to come.
“We should be recognized as the major economic development agency in the Okanagan Valley, doing what we do at a fraction of the cost of most in-house municipal economic development committees,” said Trainor.
The $28.5 million brought to the region could climb even higher in 2013.
“Could” being the key word.
Rumours persist that a major Hollywood production with a well-known leading man is slated to shoot in the North Okanagan, starting either in late August or early September.
Trainor, however, goes the route of the silent movie when asked about it.
“I am unable to comment on the many rumours circulating,” he said.
Animation has played a big key in the film commission’s success.
Former Okanagan Film Commission employee Ashley Ramsay of Kelowna’s Yeti Farm Creative has signed an exclusive three-year agreement with a major Vancouver animation company.
“Yeti Farm Creative will co-produce multiple animation television productions,” said Trainor. “Ramsay said their staff of 18 will grow to 40 in 2014, providing good-paying jobs to youth wishing to get into the animation industry.”
Ramsay praised the commission and its animation commissioner, Jon Summerland, for their tireless efforts in promoting the booming animation industry in the Okanagan.