Filmmakers call Okanagan home

When Hollywood arrived in Vernon, the Okanagan was abuzz with the prospect of having celebrities like Anthony Hopkins filming a movie in the valley.

But for one group of area residents, making movies in the Okanagan doesn’t just happen when Tinseltown shows up, instead it's a year round process that takes a lot of hard work.

Local filmmaker Brian Taylor says the Okanagan is a perfect location for making movies and is full of people capable of producing them.

“There is so much here to do, there is so many talented people. We live in one of the most amazing and beautiful places on the entire planet,” he says. “It is so incredibly diverse. We could have snowy mountains and lake scenes, and beach scenes and deserts and we could be any part of the world, or at least fake being any part of the world.”

These local filmmakers also produce the movies with almost no budget, as Taylor explains he recently took out a $10,000 line of credit to make his movie “Battle of Beaver Creek”.

“It was a giant project, too big really,” Taylor says of the 82 minute film. “So far we have made a little money and we are hoping by releasing it online for $4 a stream and $5 a download that we will be able to get two or three thousand downloads. I think that is a reasonable expectation and it will pay for the film and I can move on to the next film.”

Taylor’s film, and others like it, wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the support of the Okanagan Society of Independent Film Making (OSIF).

OSIF helps filmmakers meet other filmmakers to make their movies, explains Kelly Veltri the President of OSIF.

“(We do that) through training in workshops, networking events, by having screenings and contests, and one of our big things is gear rental, so OSIF provides equipment to filmmakers at a very low rate.”

Randy Kirk, a film maker from Vernon, credits OSIF with helping to produce his award winning movie ‘The Phoenix Solution’.

"Through OSIF, I met all these great people like Kelly and Brian, and I got influenced by them and I watched their passion and desire to make films,” explains Kirk. “It was really incredible and it sparked my interest even more, and I wanted to be around these people and learn from these people.”

Kirk, like most of the members of OSIF, did not go to film school and have other careers while making movies on the side.

“A lot of people say you’ve made this film and you’ve won, all you can do is go downhill from there. And I am like ‘no I don’t go downhill, I go to my next film’. It doesn’t matter if it is a success, it doesn’t matter if it wins, I feel already successful because I have met great people.”

One of those people Kirk was introduced to through OSIF is 17-year-old Kora Vanderlip from the Kamloops area.

Vanderlip is one of the youngest members of OSIF and is already an accomplished award winner.

Through the OSIF, filmmakers like Vanderleip were born, and at 17 she’s now a recognized award winner.

She says for the last two years she has participated in Zoom Fest, a student film festival that challenges teens to make a movie in 48 hours.

“Last year we had a film in it called ‘Last Fall’ and we won best overall,” says Vanderlip. “This year we had a film called ’The Seasons Changed’ and we won a couple of awards and my brother, Lucas Vanderlip, he won best actor.”

As members of OSIF, Taylor, Kirk and Vanderlip are exposed to The Film Factory in Kelowna, a work space for cinematographers that is the only one of its kind in-between Vancouver and Calgary.

“We have a production studio, a little theater, an audio studio and we are basically just providing those to other filmmakers in the valley so that they can complete their project and get their project finished,” explains Valtri, who also owns The Film Factory.

For more information check out OSIF online, and stay tuned for the release of Taylor’s film ‘ The Battle of Beaver Creek’ on December 21.

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