Surrey’s film industry has re-opened successfully from the pandemic restrictions and has been flourishing since.
The film industry in British Columbia closed its doors in March 2020 and did not open up again until June later that year. The re-opening of film and television productions started slow but has now resulted in the industry is the busiest it has ever been in the City of Surrey.
James Monk, the filming manager for the City of Surrey, says that commercials were responsible for the majority of filming permits the city issued before the pandemic.
“Because of COVID, a lot of commercials haven’t been up here in British Columbia because commercials only shoot for a few days,” says Monk.
“A lot of the American companies weren’t flying their directors up here to do the fourteen-day quarantine for a two-day or three-day shoot.”
When filming commercials started to decline in Surrey, it provided room for other productions to fill the role. Monk says B.C.’s film industry began its re-opening process sooner than most states in the United States, leading American companies to seek out parts of Surrey for filming locations.
“A lot of the permits we’ve seen an increase in are actually TV productions. The lower mainland is known as a TV hub. We do get feature films coming through town, but primarily it is TV productions,” Monk says.
In June, the City of Surrey reported a 34 per cent increase in permits administered since 2019. Monk says January was the busiest month for production that Surrey has ever seen.
“There used to be different fluxes throughout the year with filming, but with all of these streaming services like Netflix and Apple and Amazon, we’ve been finding that [production] is a lot more consistent throughout the year,” says Monk.
Different parts of Surrey provide filmmakers with unique locations to choose from, depending on their needs.
“Surrey has a wide gamut of looks and feels,” says Monk.
“Sometimes their scripts might be the late 1800s, other times they’re looking for a modern look and feel.”
The film industry is no exception when it comes to implementing safety protocols during COVID-19. WorkSafeBC put out a manual for productions to follow in order to limit transmissions of the illness.
These changes included physical distancing, use of masks and other PPE when necessary, limiting the number of people working on set, and moving most communication to digital platforms. Monk says crew members were also tested for the virus multiple times a week.
South and North Surrey are the first and second most popular areas for filming productions, and Cloverdale is not far behind.
Television shows such as “Supergirl,” “Batwoman,” “DC Legends of Tomorrow,” and “The Good Doctor” have all established North Surrey as their filming location. Surrey City Hall is used as the hospital in “The Good Doctor.”
Other shows such as “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” used Cloverdale’s business district for filming locations.
Some current and upcoming projects where areas of Cloverdale can be seen include the TV show “Superman & Lois” which filmed the first season and is set to film future seasons.