Mission is taking action to meet the demands of the film industry.
The city is moving forward with a new position in the 2023 budget that will see the film industry “appropriately resourced”.
In 2022, the City of Mission received 54 inquiries about filming in the area, up from 46 in 2021. However, the number of productions filming in Mission dropped from 25 in 2021 to 22 last year.
At budget meetings in February, the city’s tourism and engineering departments advocated for a part-time admin clerk to focus specifically on film because of the distraction it provides for both departments.
Stacey Crawford, Mission’s economic development officer, says film often falls to the bottom of the priority list.
“It really does deserve a home of its own,” Crawford said to council. “It is a growing industry that is pushing through a couple of productions per month now and that’s been slowly and incrementally growing.”
Tourism Mission manager Clare Seeley says the pressure is on to respond quickly to inquiries and turn permits around at a rapid pace.
“Currently, the film role is split between the tourism department and engineering front staff,” Seeley said in a presentation to council. “If we don’t respond to film crews literally immediately, then they move on to the next community.”
On Feb. 16, council voted 5-2 to add a part-time film/tourism admin clerk to the staff, with councillors Jag Gill and Ken Herar opposed.
“Certainly other municipalities do have film liaisons that work directly with the industry to understand their needs and help the industry understand what’s required from the city,” Creative BC CEO Prem Gill said. “I think it’s a great indication of how much of an impact the industry has in a particular municipality if they are considering roles like that.”
Gill says ensuring a low impact for residents and businesses, working on permitting guidelines, and working with local businesses are crucial elements to attracting productions.
Tourism Mission currently liaises with location scouts, works with the business community, helps find ideal locations, deals with circus parking for the large crews, and attends Creative BC meetings. The department also deals with any issues that arise in the production and post-production process.
“It then moves on to the engineering department, and it’s the frontline staff that are currently having to drop whatever they’re working on at the time,” Seeley said. “They then have to deal with film permits, business licensing, street permits and any other issues that come up prior to filming.”
Crawford says consolidating film into one position would create a higher degree of efficiency for both engineering and tourism.
Film crews shoot in Mission between 70 and 80 days per year. The city says fees paid by productions amounted to $25,425 in 2021 and $12,160 in 2022.
The local economy also benefited from the filming. Based on information provided by film crews to the city to track their spending in the community, the direct spend in Mission was $441,550 in 2021 and $425,309 in 2022. According to Creative BC, an equal amount of indirect spend for construction material, gas, restaurants, hotels, etc. is expected as well.
As of 2020, 910 individuals in Mission were employed directly in the film production industry, earning approximately $11.8 million in income.
In 2022, filming locations included Rocko’s Diner, the Junction, Mission Raceway and the Hunter Road Lookout. The city offers 170 unique locations for productions to shoot.
“It’s another revenue source for businesses that is helping them to keep their doors open,” Seeley said.
The position will be finalized if council votes to adopt the 2023 budget at the March 6 council meeting. In the future, the city will also review funding sources for film and tourism for the next fiscal year and evaluate how it fits into the larger conversation surrounding economic development.