This spring, North Island College’s (NIC) TV and Film Crew Training Program will celebrate its first graduates. Students learned one of four streams of behind-the-scenes jobs: carpentry and set construction, grip film training, lighting, or production assistance. The program, offered at NIC’s Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses, is designed to help students get jobs in the film industry, which can often be found close to home.
Vancouver Island is home to incredible natural landscapes, from wild and dense forests to rugged coastlines. At times this beauty seems otherworldly—which makes for a perfectly ethereal movie set location. It is also the unceded traditional lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Coast Salish Peoples.
This is the main purpose of the program: to provide practical training to Indigenous Peoples, so that when film crews use their traditional lands to shoot, they have the industry knowledge to be a part of the filming. This is just as beneficial for the film crews, who will have plenty of trained staff available when they’re on location.
The program was developed with help from the Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm). INFilm commissioner Joan Miller says the program is something they’re extremely proud of. A member of the Association of Film Commissioners International, INFilm is an organization that promotes the northern parts of Vancouver Island (from Ladysmith to Cape Scott) as a place for the industry to come and film. In the past, this region of BC has doubled in movies as places such as Northern California, Upstate New York, and coastal Alaska.
Further support for the program came in the form of nearly $500,000 from the BC government. Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, acknowledged the benefits for the local economy when she announced the program back in March 2017. According to an NIC media release, she said “The Film and Television industry is booming in BC, with $2 billion in production spending here in the province, and many productions filming right here on Vancouver Island.”
The program has seen instant success. Joan Miller is happy to report that many of the program participants are currently working on productions.