Biggest year yet for film production in the Okanagan

'Amazing' year for films

The Okanagan film industry has had their ‘biggest year yet’, seeing 33 films shot throughout the valley so far in 2021.

Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland said he expects at least a minimum of five films to shoot between now and February.

“This time of year tends to slow down about now. But the one I got yesterday wants to start filming December 9. So it's a pretty amazing time, especially considering that it wasn't too long ago, we'd be lucky if we got one full movie. And these are all full movies,” he said.

Conversations with multiple film companies for next year look to be bringing in even more interest for shooting in the area.

“Television series we're working on pushing through. Hopefully that'll happen, we need space since right now there's no commercial space for anybody. So that's one of the challenges we're finding.“

Summerland said he would like to see multiple television series take place throughout the Okanagan, to add to the feature films and "Hallmark-style" movies they have already produced.

Interest from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney or any major streaming service for a series would be a huge boost.

“The reason we want the series is their long term. If you land the series, especially if it's something like a kid show. If we landed X Files or something that's always fun and awesome, except you can kind of get location burnt.”

“Ideally I think a television series in the South Okanagan, Summerland down, then one in the Central Okanagan and the North Okanagan, would be like we won the lottery.”

Penticton through Osoyoos are drawing interest for location shoots, mimicking California or Mexico to draw the American film companies.

“The U.S. got much busier during COVID because people couldn't travel, but now it's coming back to the pain of why they left the US, since it’s expensive. So they're saying okay, it's time to come and spread back out to Canada.”

Summerland added that even smaller Indy films bring in a boost for the community they set up in.

“There's a lot of work coming from this. Plus, with all people. you can't track it. So how much money are they spending at Home Depot? Right? Buying lumber? How much did they spend at Home Hardware?”

Some exciting features in the area include a high-profile film by writer/director Neill Blomkamp, with his sci-fi/ horror film, "Demonic," which was shot in Penticton/Naramata in 2020, and released in August.

Kevin Costner was in Penticton this spring as a producer and a co-writer during a pilot shoot for the series titled "National Parks."

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