Surrey’s Film Industry Booms in 2016/17

Filming & special events representative predicts more success this year

The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow S2E07

The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and members of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow get ready to fight off an alien invasion. (Chasingscene/Youtube)

Last year brought great prosperity to Surrey’s film industry, doubling the number of permits issued to high-end productions like Supergirl. Arnold Schwarzenegger even made his way into the suburbs in 2016 to film a movie about a group of assassins out to murder him, Why We’re Killing Gunther. Film cameras have been rolling all over the municipality since last January, with more set to arrive in the new year.

“There’s a few factors to why we’ve been successful,” says James Monk, filming & special events representative for the City of Surrey. “One is that our Canadian dollar is low right now, and with the B.C. tax incentives in place as well, that’s another factor. The other reason would be that Surrey is a real diverse city. We have lots of different locations that they can film at, from urban centres to parks to our state-of-the-art facilities.”

The thriving industry can also be attributed to the large size and diverse appearances of different parts of Surrey. That makes it a unique location with a lower price tag than Vancouver, which brings productions here, resulting in local job creation.

Surrey City Hall, the City Centre Library, parks, and recreational facilities have historically been the most popular filming locations in the city, namely for the one-of-a-kind and modern architecture that can be found there. In order to better illustrate what it has to offer, an interactive map of production sites in the area has been added to the city’s website.

“The intention behind it is to create some exposure of the locations that we have in Surrey, so if a production is interested in looking into filming in Surrey, now they have an online database that they can refer to as well,” says Monk.

Over half of Why We’re Killing Gunther starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was filmed here last year, along with “an array of television productions” including Supergirl, Prison Break, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow.

“There’s going to be a lot of locations that people will be able to recognize. It’s just in their backyard, hypothetically speaking,” says Monk. “We have filmed at one of our local recreation centres, we’ve had them filming on our streets and some of our civic facilities as well, so I think people will recognize that.”

The process of filming in Surrey starts with the production company filing an inquiry or application to the filming & special events representative, who meets with them to hear their requests before taking the information to the city. From there, he acts as the liaison between the two parties in order to ensure success during the filming process. By becoming “a one-stop shop” for production companies—a responsibility which Monk has largely taken into his own hands—Surrey plans on staying a big player in film long-term.

170 film permits were issued in 2016 alone, with more in progress. Monk says that there has already been interest in filming in Surrey in January, and that in regards to upcoming productions to come out of the city, “some will be coming down the pipe very shortly.”

“I don’t see why we wouldn’t meet or beat what we did in 2016,” he says.

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