Vancouver special effects company pivots from film to fighting COVID-19
VANCOUVER -- A North Vancouver company that's credited for creating snow and ash-laden scenes in blockbuster movies has now focused its attention from artificial fluff to real issues.
When the pandemic started and the B.C. film industry was forced to shut down, Thomas FX Group Inc. also had to close its doors.
As John and Betty Quee brainstormed on how they could reopen safely, they also had many questions.
"We can all wear personal protective equipment," John says, "but what about the environment that we're working in, how does that get sanitized? How do we kill the viruses that are in the air or on surfaces?"
They purchased some equipment resembling a fog machine but instead, it gets filled with disinfecting liquid and then sprayed onto surfaces.
They kept on hunting for ideas and that's when they stumbled upon American company Biotech UV.
"The real advantage of using UV lighting is it's economical and it's very safe and it's not chemically enhanced with anything," says Betty.
She says the ultraviolet light can sanitize and disinfect 20 square feet each minute, so a 340 square foot room can be cleaned in 17 minutes.
Two weeks ago, the B.C. film industry officially got the green light to operate again as the province welcomed the third phase of the reopening plan.
WorkSafeBC created the guidelines that the industry must follow to keep crews and actors safe.
Betty says the industry has unique challenges.
"The really big concern in the film industry is everybody uses the same equipment and costumes. When they finish their scene, then they have to sanitize their wardrobes and costumes," she says.
The Quees believe BioTech could be a solution, as it can sanitize in a matter of minutes.
"In searching for a solution to help the film industry reopen, we just thought, 'Let's pivot and help all Canadian businesses reopen,'" John says.
Thomas FX is now the only Canadian distributor of BioTech, stocking 16 different items that range from $70 to $1,700.
Instead of selling fake snow to studios, they're now selling UV machines to households and businesses across the country.
"This is less about making money and more about saving lives and creating something that gives people confidence to come in public and go back to their jobs," John says.