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B.C. now Canada's leading province for film and TV production: report

British Columbia has become Canada’s leading province for film and television production, surpassing Ontario for the first time, according to a new report from Canadian Media Producers.

B.C. has long been known as Hollywood North, but in truth, despite a nickname that makes it seem like the giant of Canada’s film and TV industry, it has never been the busiest province when it comes to media production. Ontario has always led the way, with B.C. vying with Quebec, the home to Canada’s French-language production industry, for second.

But things changed last fiscal year (the period of April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017), according to Profile 2017, as B.C. broke clear of its two main competitors due primarily to an explosion in the foreign location and service (FLS) production sector, as Metro Vancouver became even more of a hot spot for new series on streaming platforms and major Hollywood blockbusters like Deadpool 2 and Star Trek Beyond.

FLS production in British Columbia increased by 46.8 per cent last year, accounting for over $2.31 billion in volume. Per the report, Star Trek Beyond alone contributed $69 million to the province’s economy during the production’s 78 days of filming.

British Columbia now accounts for 62 per cent of Canada’s FLS production. Ontario is second in the category at just 23 per cent.

Per the report, “Both B.C. and Ontario now host nearly $3 billion in film and television production annually,” giving a massive boost to the national economy and creating thousands of jobs in both markets.

Film and TV production in Canada created 171,700 full-time jobs in 2016-17, with the majority coming from these two provinces. But 2016/17 marks the first time B.C. has created more, with 24,120 direct full-time jobs in the industry — just 40 more than Ontario — and another 60,870 full-time jobs generated by the industry, over 6,000 clear of Ontario’s 54,080. 

In total, it was an incredible, record year for the Canadian film industry, as production volumes in Canada last year reached an all-time high of $8.38 billion.

While the spike in FLS production was most pronounced in British Columbia, the rest of Canada saw major gains as well, jumping by 42.1 per cent to $3.76 billion in 2016-17 — “the highest level this country has seen,” per the report. 

Canada has been a major benefactor of the modern content explosion or, as its commonly being called, the “age of abundance.” With more channels and streaming platforms creating and delivering mass media than ever before — Canadians have access to nearly 800 television channels, for instance — there are more opportunities than ever in the Canadian film and television industry, and the country has worked hard to court the big spenders.

Companies like Netflix, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are striving to build massive libraries of video content, and spending billions to do so. Next year alone, Apple is reportedly prepared to spend US$1 billion on global video content. Netflix is expected to spend US$7 billion and Amazon Prime will spend upwards of US$4.5 billion. 

But the surging demand from foreign producers is creating new challenges: suddenly, one of the largest concerns is whether Canada has the ability to meet it without threatening Canadian media in the process. 

“The theme of last year’s Profile was transition, tempered by both uncertainty about evolving business models in production, distribution and content exploitation,” said CMP in the report. “This year, it is clearer that the demand for content is there. What remains unclear is how the content creation business models — currently prevailing in Canada — and supporting government policies can meet this demand in a sustainable manner.”

The report goes on to explain that, despite Canada’s policies designed to support Canadian content, in a market this wide open, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian productions, films especially, to thrive locally.

“Capturing more than 3% of its domestic box office for Canadian films remains elusive,” it reads.

But even there, British Columbia is leading the way. According to the report, the volume of theatrical films made by B.C.-based producers increased by 92.7 per cent in 2016/17 to $79 million. And Canadian television production from B.C.-based producers increased by 26 per cent to $504 million.

Source: Vancouver Sun