Film industry expanding in Langley

Film and television crews around Langley may be very visible, or they may be tucked away on quiet rural lots, far from the view of passerby.

Either way, they’re adding significantly to the town’s economy.

Val Gafka, who oversees film permits in her role as Langley Township’s senior manager of corporate administration, said the direct economic benefit of film production is over $34 million per year.

“Generally speaking the Township is one of the most film-friendly communities in B.C.,” said Gafka.

The Township charges a very low rate for a film permit – just $25 for a film application, making it competitive with other nearby towns and cities.

However, it also charges daily fees for productions looking to film in Township parks, and a production requiring traffic control or firefighters on hand for pyrotechnics will have to pay for the extra services.

In 2014 there were more than 600 filming days in the Township, said Gafka, meaning that on a typical day, there were at least two productions filming in various locations.

Gafka is now waiting to see if the lower Canadian dollar, hovering around 80 cents to the American greenback, and down from around 95 cents last year, sends more U.S. productions this way.

“The dollar definitely has a bearing on that, as well as the tax incentives east of 200th Street,” Gafka said.

Filming in Langley often makes financial sense.

The B.C. government offers a 33 per cent tax credit on local labour used during film production. If you film outside the “Vancouver area,” or east of 200th Street, another six per cent tax credit is available.

Another recently-announced change is aimed at bringing digital animation or special effects work to the province.

An existing tax credit was expanded to post-production work, and the whole credit was extended to 2018.

The film industry spends more than $1.1 billion in B.C. annually, and generates an estimated 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Some estimates put that as high as 36,000 jobs.

It’s hard to tell at the start of 2015 if this will be a bigger than average year for filming in Langley Township.

“We’re in pilot season, to begin with,” Gafka said in February. “This is a pretty busy time of the year.”

There are about 80 to 100 productions in Langley Township every year, ranging from student films to TV movies to ongoing series.

The Township treats an ongoing series as a single production, even if it films here repeatedly, Gafka noted.

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