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Canada – British Columbia

British Columbia Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in British Columbia? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in British Columbia

For an introduction to shooting in British Columbia see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

British Columbia Film Locations 

British Columbia offers a great diversity of film locations ranging from the unique to those that double for other places. The province is famous for its spectacular beauty of vast snow-covered mountains, pristine glacial lakes and rivers, rushing waterfalls, old growth forests, remote forest-covered islands with impressive mansions, rugged coastline, and modern architecture. Most of the province is very green, but towards the interior your can find more arid looks.

Agricultural film locations are as diverse as vineyards, dairy and berry farms. Industrial film locations include hydroelectric dams, lumber yards, fish farms, and commercial fishing trawlers.

British Colombia has hosted a long list of productions including Deadpool (2016), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), Man of Steel (2013), Watchmen (2009), The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), I, Robot (2004), X-Men 2 (2003), Final Destination (2000), Scary Movie (2000), Titanic (1997), Jumanji (1995), Alive (1993), X-Files (1993-2018), It (1990), Rambo: First Blood (1982), and many more.

Lower Mainland

Includes the regions of Vancouver, Eastern suburbs, Southern Suburbs, North Shore, Sea to Sky, Sunshine Coast, and Fraser Valley.

Also known as Hollywood North, Vancouver is a favourite destination for productions looking for easy access to a wide variety of locations and a world-class film production services. Vancouver offers a shiny modern city skyline, rooftop car parks, contemporary architecture, typical American suburbs, vibrant Chinatown, trendy neighbourhoods, gardens and city parks, major sporting venues, marinas, a container port, and several impressive bridges, all set against the backdrop of a beautiful harbour with snow-capped mountains. Locations of particular interest including the following: Stanley Park is a forest inside the city that looks like it could be a thousand miles from civilisation. Vancouver has several city beaches ranging from the busy Kitsilano Beach to the more secluded Wreck Beach. VanDusen Botanical Garden has a hedge maze. Bloedel Conservatory is a conservatory and aviary located in Queen Elizabeth Park. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is a Chinese garden located in the heart of Vancouver. The Marine Building is a beautiful art deco structure. Graham House in West Vancouver is an impressive architectural work. The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is full of First Nations history and culture. Science World is an interesting structure built for Expo 86. Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is a lighthouse that looks like its in a remote location. Playland at the PNE is a fun park location available for filming. The Downtown Eastside’s high concentration of drugs and homelessness offers those looks. Other interesting film locations include the Vancouver Art Gallery, Four Seasons Hotel, Parq Vancouver, and the Lions Gate Bridge.

Vancouver is unique in the vast number of modern city, mountain, rural and coastal looks you can access within a short drive from the city center. An hour in any direction can find you on a deep-sea fishing trawler, in a field beside an old dairy farmhouse, or skiing down deep powder runs. For mountaineering looks there are several nearby locations where crews can drive right up to the snow line.

Looking north you can access the three ski areas within a 30 minute drive of Vancouver: Grouse Mountain, Seymour Mountain, and Cypress Mountain. Capilano Suspension Bridge and Lynn Canyon are also located in this area.

Driving north from Vancouver, the Sea To Sky Highway is ideal for car commercials looking for a spectacular road with forest-covered islands on one side and snow-covered mountains on the other.

Driving north of Vancouver, Squamish is an outdoors paradise with mountains, rivers, and sea access. The Stawamus Chief is a 700 m (2,297 ft) granite monolith popular with rock climbers. The Sea to Sky Gondola has views of Howe Sound and nearby Shannon Falls. Picturesque lakes of note include Alice Lake and Watersprite Lake. Nearby Mount Tantalus is easily accessible for mountaineering. The Squamish area is also popular for mountain biking and fly fishing.

Located only 2hr drive north from Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort. As well as 2010 Winter Olympics facilities, Whistler is a popular summer destination for mountain biking and yoga retreats. The Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake, Joffre Lakes, Nairn Falls, and Brandywine Falls are located nearby.

Taking the ferry 2hr west from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is known for its beautiful coastline, deep evergreen forests, secluded swimming lakes, and mountain biking trails. Towns of note include Gibsons and Powell River.

Heading east from Vancouver you can find farm, mountain, forest, lake and river locations. Buntzen Lake Powerhouses have featured in films such as Freddy Vs. Jason (2003), Lake Placid (1999), and Roxanne (1987). Golden Ears Provincial Park hosted Riverdale (2017-), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and First Blood (1982). Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam is an abandoned former psychiatric hospital and interesting location for a horror film. Pitt Meadows has an infinity road with mountain backdrop ideal for car commercials.

Vancouver Island

Includes the regions of Northern, Central, and Southern.

Vancouver Island is known for its beautiful temperate rainforests, old-growth trees, and the rugged Pacific coast with its dark sand beaches and wild surf.

The capital Victoria can easily double for old-English looks with locations such as the Parliament Building, Craigdarroch Castle, Empress Hotel, Fan Tan Alley, Christ Church Cathedral, Royal British Columbia Museum, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Beacon Hill Park, and Fisgard Lighthouse. Victoria also has a vibrant Chinatown, which can double for those looks. Just outside of Victoria you can find Butchart Gardens, and Goldstream Provincial Park.

Tofino is a beautiful cold water surf town.

Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park is home to an easily accessible old-growth Douglas-fir forest.

The Free Spirit Spheres make for a unique film location and place to stay.

Thompson-Okanagan

Includes the regions of Okanagan, Thompson-Nicola, Shuswap, and Similkameen.

British Columbia’s arid interior is famous for its wineries, Lake Okanagan, farms and orchards. The dry yellow grasses and sagebrush landscapes can easily double as locations in the Western United States or Mexico.

The Kettle Valley Steam Railway has a steam train available for filming.

Myra Canyon trestles are an impressive film location.

Ski resorts of note include Big White, Silver Star and Apex Mountain.

Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park is famous for its rock climbing crags.

Kootenay

Includes the regions of West Kootenays, East Kootenays, and Columbia-Rockies.

The Rocky Mountains are known for their rugged snow-covered mountains, ski resorts, natural hot springs, pristine rivers and lakes.

Yoho National Park is a spectacular location known for Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls, and Wapta Falls.

Kootenay National Park is known for Radium Hot Springs, the Paint Pots, Sinclair Canyon, Marble Canyon, Floe Lake, and Olive Lake. The park is home to bighorn sheep, moose, elk, wolves, and grizzly bears.

Glacier National Park is known for its mountain peaks, glaciers, caves, and deep forest.

Mount Revelstoke National Park is known for its alpine meadows.

Mount Assiniboine is located in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.

Ski resorts of note include Revelstoke, Fernie, Kicking Horse, and Panorama.

The historic, bohemian city of Nelson is in this region.

Trail is home to one of the worlds largest zinc smelters.

Canyons & The Cariboo

Includes the regions of Cariboo-Chilcotin, and Fraser Canyon.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is famous for its waterfalls including Helmcken Falls, Spahats Falls, Moul Falls, and Dawson Falls.

Other parks of note include Pinnacles Provincial Park, Moose Valley Provincial Park, and Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park.

Barkerville is a historic Gold Rush town.

North & Central Coast

This coastal region of BC is famous for the Great Bear Rainforest, the home of the Spirit Bear.

Home of the Haida Nation, Haida Gwaii is an island archipelago known for its beautiful coastal old-growth forests.

Khutzeymateen Provincial Park is a great place to photograph grizzly bears.

Northern British Columbia

This northern region is known for its mountains, forests and vast expanses of wilderness.

Mount Robson Provincial Park is located in the Canadian Rockies. Locations of note include Mount Robson, Arctomys Cave, Berg Lake, Kinney Lake, and Yellowhead Lake.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park and Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park are also located in this part of the province.

Sikanni Chief Falls is a beautiful film location.

The Alaska Highway starts in Dawson Creek, in the Peace River Basin.

Northern British Columbia is also great for photographing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).

British Columbia Film Location Permits

British Columbia has a film friendly, streamlined permitting process. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Spring (April to May) brings flowers in full bloom. Vancouver spring days bring cherry blossoms and snow-capped mountain backdrops. Summers (June to September) are warm with long sunny shoot days. Most of British Columbia’s forests are evergreen but some trees, especially in the cities, turn colorful in the fall months (October to November). The salmon run takes place during the fall months, depending on the location and species. The coastal areas of the the Pacific North West, including Vancouver, have very rainy winters (December to March) with almost no snowfall. British Columbia’s mountainous areas are cold with road-accessible snow often available as early as November.

The Cariboo Cross-Country Ski Marathon takes place in 100 Mile House every February.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Canada.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

British Columbia Tax Incentives For Filming

Tax Incentives. British Columbia offers a Production Services Tax Credit of 33% on qualifying British Columbia labor costs, plus an additional 17.5% on qualifying Digital Animation or Visual Effects labor, plus a 6% Regional Tax Credit bonus on qualifying regional labor. For Commercials, British Columbia offers a 5% tax rebate for foreign productions. Our Vancouver production service producer takes care of all the paperwork and a cheque is sent directly from the Federal Government to you, usually within a few months.

British Columbia Film Crew & Talent 

Crew. Vancouver is Western Canada’s main production service center. The city has world renowned, experienced creative and technical crews that specialize in servicing a broad spectrum of productions from Hollywood feature films to commercial stills.

Contact us if you are looking for a Vancouver or Victoria based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in British Columbia.

Talent. One of the major reasons to shoot in British Columbia is the access to animal actors. Trained exotic animals included a polar bear, grizzly bear, bald eagle, wolf, cougar, and raccoon.

As far as human talent goes, Vancouver has an extensive and experienced pool of actors and models, particularly for Caucasian and Asian looks. Half of Vancouver’s population is of Asian descent making it a great place to cast for those looks. The only lead roles that might need an extra round of casting outside of Vancouver would be African looks and high end fashion models. There are 198 distinct First Nations groups in British Columbia including the the Haida, Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, Gitxsan, Tsimshian, and Nisga’a people. Film characters synonymous with British Columbia include raincoat wearing pot smoking environmentalists hippies, coffee connoisseurs, lumberjacks, fishermen, and outdoorsy types like kayakers, trail runners, mountain bikers, skiers, and rock climbers.

British Columbia Film Equipment

Equipment. Vancouver offers both Panavision and Arri equipment as well as several boutique equipment companies. The majority of specialized equipment is available in Vancouver including an Ultimate Arm, camera cars, cranes and helicopter mounts. Vancouver no longer has the Russian Arm.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

British Columbia Studios & Post Production

Studios. In terms of sound studio space, Vancouver is second only to Los Angeles. Among the many films shot in Vancouver’s studios include Netflix’s Altered Carbon which filmed in Skydance Studios. 

Post Production. Vancouver has world class post facilities. It is a leader in SPFX having had worked on productions including Elysium (2013), Continuum (2012–2015), Apollo 18 (2011), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010) to name a few. Vancouver also has a film lab.

Visas & Work Permits

Previously the rules were very strict with all visiting crew required to have work permits that were very time consuming and expensive to get. The good news is now commercial advertising shoots are exempt from the work permit process on the condition the project is foreign funded. See here for more information.

For crew members who will be entering to oversee the project, Western passport holders are able to enter Canada visa-free with an eTA for a period of up to six months. This excludes US nationals arriving directly from the US, who are exempt from the eTA requirement.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Canada has an extensive road network, particularly in the more populated south of the country. Several domestic airlines and charter services are available to access more remote areas. Major Canadian cities are serviced by most international carriers.

Accommodation. Please contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, Kelowna, Prince Rupert and other areas of British Columbia. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. British Columbia is a very safe and reliable filming centre. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Vancouver is an outdoor paradise that within a couple of hours drive offers snow skiing, beach volleyball, sea kayaking and trail running. For the foodies out there Vancouver offers delicious sushi, dim sum, and West Coast fare. For those looking to totally switch off take a seaplane out to the Gulf Islands.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in British Columbia, please see below:

Hire British Columbia Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in British Columbia, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in British Columbia, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.