DE&I expert Nancy Mott visits with Ryan Reynolds on the set of Deadpool.

Green-lit: Pilot production highs illuminate Vancouver’s prospering TV & Film Industry

A recent report from FilmL.A. reveals that Vancouver witnessed a 67 per cent increase in pilot episode production. According to the study, 25 pilots were filmed in Vancouver from 2015-2016—up from 16 pilots in the previous cycle. This places Vancouver third in North America for pilot filming, just behind New York (28) and L.A. (82).  Since the release of the report, the Vancouver Economic Commission has been inundated with requests for our insight on Vancouver’s flourishing film and TV industry.

We’ve taken the time to give you our take via Nancy Mott, our sector expert and the VEC’s Manager of Digital Entertainment & Interactive (DE&I). In her role, Nancy supports this fast-growing sector by connecting production companies and talent to resources, providing companies with business leads, and liaising with game, animation and VFX studios as well as film production companies. As such, her insights span beyond Vancouver film and TV sets.

We’re not just getting the pilots; we’re regularly getting entire series and returning seasons.

The substantial increase in pilot production in Vancouver is great for our film and TV industry. Here’s the thing: we’re not just getting the pilots; we’re regularly getting entire series and returning seasons. We’ve seen the positive economic impact on our city as new productions that filmed their pilots here return once being green-lit.

This growth in Vancouver’s film and TV production has encouraged and enabled companies to upgrade facilities, purchase more state-of-the-art equipment and build more studio space. More pilot production means an increase of potential returning clients. It also proves that new productions are aware of and interested in what Vancouver has to offer them.

With this global growth in content creation, we’re looking forward to welcoming a new Vancouver Film Commissioner. The Film Commissioner will be an invaluable point of contact for content creators interested in the entire Vancouver value proposition: physical production, VFX and animation, post-production, interactive games and VR/AR.

In addition to promoting Vancouver as an international destination to build careers in entertainment, the Vancouver Economic Commission has focused on growing, supporting and retaining homegrown talent. The sustained boom of Vancouver’s film and TV industry and the resulting steady supply of jobs are both validating and promising, particularly as we have been working with schools to inform educators and students on the career opportunities in these industries.

Vancouver’s 1,000 Digital Entertainment & Interactive companies alone employ 40,000 people. We’re only going to see that number grow as new industry players like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu invest in hundreds of additional hours of content creation as we continue to serve established clients like Disney, Warner Bros., and Syfy.


What is a pilot or pilot episode?

For readers unfamiliar with the term, a television pilot is a standalone, original episode of a new or intended TV series, used to sell the show to a network or distributor. A pilot episode tests audience reception and gauges whether a script or idea can be successfully realised on camera. Once they approve (greenlight) a series, networks (HBO, Fox, ABC) and online content distributors (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix) may approve funding for one or more seasons of the series.

Typical pilot productions provide substantial economic benefits towards the hosting region. According to FilmL.A., “the average one-hour drama pilot can directly employ 150-750+ people for the duration of the project.” Typical pilot budgets average well above $2 million for comedy and $7.5 million for drama, providing a steady stream of jobs.


Further Reading

For context and further reading, here is the report from FilmL.A. that spurred the discussion

Nancy has done thought pieces before – here’s more from her:

For more on the recent economic benefits of Film & TV production on a region: