2. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
To locate the success story of the moment, it’s probably smart to just follow The Rock: He’s been in British Columbia these past months, shooting the disaster film Skyscraper alongside Canada’s own Neve Campbell. Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds was also spotted around town, filming the inevitable sequel to 2016’s superhero smash Deadpool. These are just two of 338 productions that qualified for B.C.’s tax credits this year, a rise of 41 from last year, according to numbers compiled by Creative B.C. in September; their forecast estimated more than $2.6 billion in film expenditures for B.C. in 2017, up 35 percent from 2015-2016. Vancouver was also host to two dozen series in 2017, including six new pilots. As of December there have been 189 commercials and 87 miscellaneous projects produced.
Vancouver’s neo-Hollywood reputation is well-earned, with its blossoming infrastructure of 2.5 million square feet of stage space on over 100 stages, the world’s largest VFX/animation cluster, 17 educational institutions with motion picture production as a discipline, and 3,000 graduates per year entering media from B.C.’s post-secondary programs, as well as abundant woodsy-green shooting locations (see: any X-Men film).
But what about the indie scene?
Vancouver is, in fact, proving to be a magnet for those who want to tell intimate, non-Deadpool-ish stories about real people facing life’s challenges. Among them is director Mina Shum, who shot indie drama Meditation Park in East Vancouver last spring.
“I shot the film two blocks from where I live, in East Vancouver, which is a mix of immigrants, old and new,” says Shum. “The opening shot is Maria hanging up her laundry, beige underthings, and when we got to shooting, there wasn’t enough laundry to fill the line the way I wanted. Our set decorator ran door to door and eventually collected beige briefs from elders living down the street—I felt that was very Vancouver.”
Shum describes Vancouver’s film community as a “welcoming place” and a “strong indie community of filmmakers” and heaps praise on the suppliers and partners who keep things running on time for local productions. “Crews are happy to work on a local vision,” she says. “They feel like they are sharing something they relate to, a little of their story. I had an excellent, welcoming crew—seasoned veterans who were making less money than if they worked for Hollywood, but they wanted to do our film. I’m writing a sci-fi chamber piece next, and when we shoot we’ll definitely go to a few far-off locations necessary to the story, but we’ll do most of it here in a studio, where we’ll build the world of the film.”