SLRD may soon cast film role By Oona Woods The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District may soon be casting around for a full-time film liaison officer. The SLRD has declared it wants to establish some form of film commission to meet the growing need for co-ordination between locals and in coming filmmakers. In a report dated Nov. 16, administrator Rick Beauchamp recommends that the board consider actively promoting filming within the SLRD and that the board establish a special service for film promotion, instead of having no policy at all. Budget negotiations for financing this project will be discussed at preliminary budget meetings in December before being finalized in March, 1999. On average, two feature films are made in the Sea to Sky Corridor each year. Jeep, Airwalk, Panasonic, and Honda have all received filming permits from the city planning department in Squamish, and from the Parks and Recs department in Whistler. Access to remote and difficult locations is one of the corridor’s advantages. The ski-lifts offer access to all kinds of terrain and there is also a high concentration of trained snow-cat drivers, snowmobilers and backcountry guides in the area. Squamish and Whistler are already somewhat covered in this area by the Sea to Sky Film Committee, whose mandate has been to make the area more film-friendly. The committee is made up of film professionals who work in the industry and live in this area. They volunteer their local knowledge and professional experience to go between the film community and local businesses, promoting locations as well as the relevant skill base in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly says that a film commission would take over some of these roles. "The film committee has been enhancing the development of more film in the corridor, like the film forum (held in Whistler in May), but there needs to be a larger structure in place... We also need to restructure. With the committee right now people who are interested get in and participate. That doesn’t mean all areas are represented. If we are going to pay for it we need representation of some sort... It’s a very competitive industry and if we don’t deliver the product they will end up going somewhere else." Adriane Polo, president of the Sea to Sky Film Committee, says that they would welcome the new film commission. "It’s a wonderful idea, its time has come. If we are to solicit and service the film industry it can’t be done by volunteers. Especially volunteers with interests in the industry. We have nothing but positive things to say about an assigned position. It will benefit everybody, benefit people, the extras, the crews who want to work." Polo sees a more toned down role for the committee in the event of a commission being established. "The Sea to Sky Film Committee could take on a more advisory capacity. It is comprised of people who work in the industry and could provide advice and direction towards the paid person." Statistics released by the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture earlier this year stated that the $630-million film and television industry has grown by more than 300 per cent in the last 10 years. A report released at the same time suggests that this area of growth may more than double in the next 10 years. This would provide direct employment for 25,000 people and would indirectly employ over 45,000 people.