It’s no secret the film industry on the West Coast is booming right now. Major Hollywood players like Warner Brothers, Disney, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have all increased production in BC, and current trends show that this expansion won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
A bulk of BC’s film production happens in Vancouver. However, the industry is also thriving on Vancouver Island. The recent production of Chesapeake Shores in Qualicum Beach, Parksville, and Nanaimo has resulted in a new Vancouver Island Film Studio being developed in Parksville. The studio is expected to be completed in early 2018. Chesapeake Shores was renewed for a third season, having thus far been filmed without adequate studio facilities. One of the Vancouver Island film industry’s largest issues is the lack of production facilities, as well as equipment rental services. This dearth of infrastructure makes films more expensive to produce on the Island than on the mainland. The addition of the Vancouver Island Film Studio, however, is likely to further industry growth.
The film industry has provided many jobs for the Vancouver Island and Coastal Regional Districts. WorkBC’s Labour Market Information shows a 6.3 percent increase in Information, Culture, and Recreation jobs from 2014-2015. Workers in the industry tend to be younger than in other industries, and temporary work is common; likely because many of the jobs in these sectors are film-related.
So, what should people looking for jobs in the film industry do? What are the essential skills for a career in film? Lawrence Jordan, a professional film editor who has worked in Hollywood on over 45 feature films and television shows, says that the key to finding jobs is to be nice to people, and to network.
“It certainly helps to be in one of the major production centres,” Jordan said. “Up in Canada, Toronto and Vancouver are excellent places to get yourself into the cutting room, start meeting people, start networking, and letting people know that you want to be part of the process. I think if you can get your foot in the door at any level, whether it’s as a post-production PA, a runner, or even working in a facility, you’re going to start meeting people who are doing what you want to do. Your network is where your future work will come from.”
Jordan’s first opportunity to edit a feature film was Dead Space (1991). The film starred Bryan Cranston before his Malcom in the Middle days, and was produced by Hollywood heavyweight Roger Corman. Jordan has worked on films such as Back to the Future (1985), Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo (1999), Fifty Shades of Black (2016), and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his work on the TV show NYPD Blue (1993). Jordan says he always wanted to work on feature films, and this helped guide him toward his end goal.
“Figure out which part of the industry you want to work in,” he says. “Do you want to make documentaries? Do you want to make reality TV? Do you want to make promos or trailers? Do you want to make television or features? Whichever one you want to do you should focus on that because that’s where the seeds of your network will be grown.”
While he is still involved in editing feature films, Jordan also works in a teaching role with an online course called Master the Workflow that he developed alongside assistant editor Richard Sanchez. Master the Workflow is a course that teaches people the experience of working as assistant editors, focusing on how editors can best manage metadata and build their professional networks. There are free guides and podcasts available online through <mastertheworkflow.com>.
According to an article on infilm.ca, “the B.C. government released data on film and TV-related spending in 2016/17, indicating $2.6 billion in production spending took place in the province across 338 tax-credit approved projects. That represented a 35% increase from the previous year, in which 297 tax-credit approved projects[’] certifications resulted in production expenditure of $1.9 billion.” The BC government is currently looking to revisit their system of tax credits to make the province more competitive and is also seeking ways to make the industry more open to BC writers. The industry is expected to continue growing in 2018.
Be sure to listen to our interview with Lawrence Jordan here.