BC film industry on the rebound?

Paul Pincott and his daughter Ashley relax on a 1950s diner set, one of dozens of themed sets and thousands of props he rents and sells to the film production industry at his Burnaby warehouse, Can-Am Importique. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER FILE
Paul Pincott and his daughter Ashley relax on a 1950s diner set, one of dozens of themed sets and thousands of props he rents and sells to the film production industry at his Burnaby warehouse, Can-Am Importique.

It appears the local film industry is on the rebound if the experience of one Burnaby business is any indication.

Last year, Can Am Importique auctioned off half its inventory of props to help stave off closure of the decades-old business.

Less than a year later, things are looking up, says Can Am's owner, Paul Pincott.

"Talk about a sigh of relief. I'm so thankful 2013 is gone. It's a bad luck number to begin with."

Pincott said he's not out of the woods yet. His prop rental business in the Lake City area is "still a little soft," largely due to computer-generated imaging reducing the need for physical props.

And with most of his props based on a retro and nostalgic look, it's not fitting in with some of the major film shoots currently in town, such Tomorrowland starring George Clooney.

On the other hand, "anybody that's in construction they're having a field day right now, they're so busy," he said, noting he's heard there are "close to 3,000 construction workers on Tomorrowland … They're building big, big sets."

For the industry as a whole, "there's no question the [weakening Canadian] dollar has really made a difference."

Pincott has noticed his phone ringing a lot more often as a result. And while the provincial government has so far refused to match tax credits being offered to the film industry in Ontario, he's optimistic.

"It looks for all intents and purposes they're on board or at least they're saying so," he said.

"If you're doing a million-dollar picture, if you can save 10 per cent by going to Toronto or Montreal, what would you do? That's a lot of spare change in your pocket."

As for Can Am Importique, Pincott will be holding another small auction on Feb. 15 to free up room for his Lake City Studios. He's trying to find a tenant to sublet 10,000 square feet he's got vacant, and has been renting out studio space for music videos, short films, commercials, photo shoots and TV.

And he plans to do more work props-wise with event planners.

"I was so close to shutting her down with the lack of business and it becoming apparent this industry was going nowhere but it's certainly all of a sudden had an about-turn," Pincott said.

"It is up and down, has been kind of that way over the years," he said of the film industry. "I've been doing this for 38 years, so I've seen it all, but definitely last year was one of the worst."

Last year it became apparent an increasing number of film productions were headed back east to take advantage of the additional tax credits. But he's not sure, other than the falling dollar, what is causing the turnaround now locally.

"All I know is things are definitely percolating here right now. I hope it continues."

Oh, the weather back east might be helping.

"Can you imagine filming back there when it's 40 below? No, thank you."

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