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Film production benefits local economy

Movie crew overcomes logistical issues during 22-day shoot
Ta’Kaiya Blaney
ECONOMIC SPINOFF: A recent feature film production in the Powell River region meant money for local employees and businesses. The movie, Kayaking for Beginners, stars 14-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney from Tla’amin Nation. Contributed photo

Production on the feature film Kayaking for Beginners recently wrapped in the Powell River region. A 22-day shoot included filming in locations around Lund, Gibsons Beach, Tla’amin Nation, Copeland Islands, Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island, Bella Bella and Klemtu.

Producer Daniel Bekerman said budgets are not divulged because it could affect distribution, however, he said it was not a high-budget film. The movie still cycled money back into the local economy though.

“Most of the budget was devoted to hotels, transportation, food, caterers and all those types of things,” said Bekerman. “Where a normal production might spend 30 per cent of its budget on things like that, we probably spent 80 per cent.”

The expense was due, in part, to the difficult logistics of the production, including locations and much of the movie taking place on water.

“First of all, we needed to find people who had adequate boats that could support us, both from a camera point of view and from a support point of view,” he said. “For a low-budget movie, the logistics were very complicated.”

According to people within Powell River’s local film industry, having Kayaking for Beginners was important to laying groundwork for future productions.

“They’re burning out locations in Vancouver, so having that production in Powell River was important because we were able to see how some of those locations could be used,” said Tony Papa, who founded Powell River Digital Film School and worked as digital-imaging technician.

Four of Papa’s students were hired for the shoot and gained valuable experience, including Ben Kyle as second camera assistant, Tiffany Smith and Jazz Rico in the art department and Will Walden shooting some footage for the electronic press kit.

According to Bekerman, the two things that matter for a crew are expertise and a sense of personal investment in the project.

“Even though some people didn’t have tons of experience, they had a passion for the project and they were willing to learn, to me that counts for so much,” he said. “The fact that people cared about the project, the ideas behind it and the people they were working with made the whole project a real pleasure; that can be lost on the bigger projects.”

According to Papa, that sense was felt throughout the entire production, including local services such as catering and boat charters. Lund Hotel was full for at least two weeks and restaurants were busy, particularly in Lund, he said.

Papa said when it comes to feature film productions, Powell River would benefit by having its own film commissioner. Currently, generating interest in filming in the area is handled by the Vancouver Island North Film Commission.

However, despite all of the positive benefits for business in the community, outside film productions coming to Powell River face the same obstacles as everyone else coming to the region: ferries.

“Some productions may view the fact that you have to take two ferries, but for the right kind of production, it’s an excellent place to film,” said Bekerman.

The right kinds of production, he added, are smaller ones.

“If you have a ton of equipment, trucks and gear, it’s going to become logistically that much more cumbersome to bring everything,” said Bekerman.

Kayaking for Beginners stars 14 year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney and Evan Adams from Tla’amin Nation; Lorne Cardinal, who appeared for six seasons on Corner Gas as sergeant Davis Quinton; and Jared Ager-Foster.

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