Squamish might be a popular destination for climbers and kiteboarders, but the municipality is also a growing hub for film production.
That's why, last week, the District of Squamish announced it had created a new film and events manager position to help expand opportunities for filming and events in the area.
"It's been growing for a while," says Christina Moore, communications manager with the district. "We've had a number of events in Squamish in recent history. We've reached a point where it was important to understand and identify how to really seize the opportunities that were being presented to us. It became important for us to have a single point of contact for event producers and scouts coming to town to make a connection between community interest and producers and take it to a new level."
In 2012, 22 film productions — from miniseries to feature films and commercials — took place in Squamish, up from 14 in 2011. The crews brought an estimated $1.5 million into the economy with hotel accommodations, transportation, restaurants and groceries. And that's a conservative calculation, according to Moore.
"Squamish has become known in the film industry as a film-friendly place," she says. "We're within driving distance to the Lower Mainland and have that small-town feel that can be captured and interpreted into so many different scenes and there's so much diversity in our scenery, from oceans to mountains and rivers."
The new hire for the manager's position is Devon Guest, a Squamish resident who has worked for everyone from the CFL to the BC Lions Football Club and the Vancouver 2010 Games. "Part of the reason I'm here is to really look at how we can grow and where we can grow and capitalize on, not only the opportunities that are coming to Squamish, but how to also engage further with that community to get more crews and producers and more economic film dollars up into Squamish," Guest says. "I really envision the role as an opportunity to develop significant economic and cultural opportunities for Squamish."
The district has established a relationship with the BC Film Commission and many of the opportunities will come from local production houses. CBC's drama Artic Air, for example, was recently shooting in the area. "My hope is they'll be back a few more times over the coming months," Moore says. "It's more about looking at days of shooting in the Squamish region as opposed to the number of productions."
There's also potential with the new position to reach out to productions from outside of B.C. "We're open for business and everything is an opportunity," Guest says. "There will definitely be focus on the full spectrum of productions."
On the events front, Guest points to goings on this summer like The Squamish Valley Music Festival and BC Bike Race as examples of the growing scene.
"I also love those live experiences," she says. "With my broadcast and events background, providing those experiences to people is pretty fantastic... focusing on leveraging existing opportunities is really the immediate focus."