'We can now start thinking about the restart': B.C. film industry gets the green light
VANCOUVER -- The announcement that B.C. is heading into Phase 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan means B.C.'s film industry can officially get back underway.
“It signals that now we can now start thinking about the restart and prepping for productions and get folks back to work,” said Prem Gill, CEO of Creative BC.
The film industry won’t be operating the same way it was on March 1, however, Gill said.
The industry has created guidelines with WorkSafeBC using provincial health regulations to handle the ongoing pandemic on set.
The list includes suggestions such as “reducing time in close contact” during make-up application, or even avoiding it by “applying special effects makeup.” There are also options like asking “background performers to wear their own clothing” and using a variety of camera shots, angles and lenses, “to allow for greater distances between performers.”
Gill said it will be up to each employer to make their own protocols because it’s not a one-size-fits-all system.
“There can be a television commercial that maybe only has 30 people and then a larger production that has a few hundred people,” she explained.
“We have extraordinary talent, behind-camera talent, post-production talent, here in B.C.,” said premier John Horgan during a news conference Wednesday. “I think the big issue for many of the productions here is U.S. front-of-camera personnel coming to British Columbia.”
At the same news conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there will be no “waiving of the 14-day quarantine” requirement for visiting stars.
Gill said that won’t be an issue, saying the industry has “full intentions” to follow provincial health guidelines.
“I am running out of new things to watch on Netflix and new content would be good,” said Horgan. “I also know the jobs that are connected to the industry are critical, all-important to British Columbia not just in the Lower Mainland and the South Island but indeed across the province.”
Gill said the industry employs some 70,000 people across the province and brings in about $3.2 billion each year. There were about 7,000 staff who work in graphics who Gill said continued to work throughout the pandemic, but most will be returning after many months off.
As for when British Columbians could see sets popping up in their neighbourhoods, Gill said the industry hopes to have productions restart in July or early August.
“Municipalities like Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – who are often used as sites – all those film offices have been engaged and are prepared to permit again,” she said.