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Film biz not so scary

The film industry in the Tri-Cities is alive and well - although many producers are focusing their lenses locally on deathly story lines.

The film industry in the Tri-Cities is alive and well - although many producers are focusing their lenses locally on deathly story lines.

One of the biggest movies to be shot here this year was Twilight, with the blockbuster vampire flick's cast and crew flying in and out of Coquitlam, Port Moody and Anmore.

About half of the filming in Coquitlam happens at Riverview Hospital and, last year, 63 contracts were issued to film in decommissioned buildings at the mental health institution and a similar number have been issued this year, a provincial government spokesperson said.

Among the thrillers or science fiction TV shows filmed at Riverview last year are: Supernatural, Fringe, The Killing, Caprica, Eureka and Stargate Universe.

Lynda Baker, the city's special event officer, said the 2010 Olympic Winter Games put B.C. on the map for filmmakers who weren't already familiar with Hollywood North - especially those in the dark arts.

"The scary movies are really popular here," she said. "Riverview plus our open, wooden spaces, the quarries, the city life, they can get a lot of shots here."

B.C. is now the third largest production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City.

BC Film Commissioner Susan Croome told The Tri-City News her agency is pushing to develop a kind of "film-friendly designation" with municipalities.

This month, the provincial government announced $275,000 to help organizations attract and provide services for film and video producers.

The funding is available for regional film commissions, specific tourism associations and municipalities that work closely with the BC Film Commission "to showcase and promote their regions to filmmakers and liaise with production companies," according to a news release.

John DuMont, Coquitlam's deputy city manager, said yesterday the city "will be eager to participate" once the film-friendly program is set up.

But a location scout said the Tri-Cities can do a lot in the meantime to lure more business to the region as "the area pretty much has everything other cities have for filming," he said.

The scout, who declined to be named for this article, said he concentrates on Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Langley because of the extra tax credits producers get for filming there. He suggested the Tri-Cities build a one-stop shop or studio to give production companies an incentive to leave Vancouver.

"There has to be something unique that far out to bring everyone there, something that can't be found between there and Vancouver," he said. "A building, house, something major for the main location then the smaller locations can be found nearby. Many times, I've had to find locations near a studio so [cast and crews] didn't have to do a full company move."

Also, he said many Tri-City locations are now closed off or are difficult to shoot around for security reasons, namely the BC Hydro thermal plant and Buntzen Lake.

The scout also recommended Tri-City municipal staff update the location files on the BC Film Commission library - or, even, invite location scouts out for a day to showcase the region.

"Perhaps a polite poke is needed to remind us that the Tri-Cities area is still there and available for filming," he said.

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