With the help of a grant worth more than $300,000, the ​Civic Theatre ​in Nelson, British Columbia, is working towards developing a thriving ​Screen-Based Industry in the Kootenays.

British Columbia is home to 40 percent of Canada’s film and television production but many Kootenay film professionals are leaving the area to seek opportunities in metropolitan centres, such as Vancouver or Toronto. The Civic Theatre in Nelson has decided to take the lead in building local opportunities so filmmakers can continue to work and live here. With a recent grant of $336,806 from the BC Rural Dividend program, the non-profit is setting about strengthening and diversifying the local film and media arts sector.

In 2016, Nelson-area Screen-Based Industry (SBI) professionals expressed an overarching need for more opportunities to connect with one another and to cultivate a more robust creative local economy. The Civic Theatre’s initiative was created in response to that desire for film development. With the support of the Rural Dividend program, the Civic has also hired ​Lynn Trinh​ as the​ Kootenay SBI Regional Program Manager ​to develop and extend the reach of this endeavour.

Amy Allcock​.

The Civic’s effort aims to connect film communities across the region, providing support, networking opportunities, and training to Basin communities to host their own SBI Meet-Ups. The Nelson SBI Meet-Ups have been regularly hosted by ​SBI Community Coordinator​​ Aeja Goldsmith​, and have provided a chance for local SBI workers to make professional connections and share opportunities since 2016.

Amy Allcock​, an emerging filmmaker known for telling stories that educate and inspire, is currently working on a documentary about restoring Western Canada’s lost salmon run. “I have been involved with the Kootenay Screen-Based Industry group since moving to Nelson in 2018 and embarking on my filmmaking career,” she says. “It’s been helpful and inspiring to connect with others working in the industry – the talent and expertise in Nelson is amazing, especially given our remote location! Being involved in the group has helped me improve my filmmaking skills, expanded my network and led to some interesting opportunities. I am grateful to be a part of such a supportive and talented community.”

Jonathan Robinson. His video that won best music video at the 2016 Kootenay Music Awards can be seen above.

Jonathan Robinson​, another filmmaker who feels ambitious about the future of Kootenay film, has reached wider audiences abroad through securing local accolades such as “Best Music Video” at the Kootenay Music Awards in 2017 and the “Brewer’s Choice Award” at the Craft Brews of the Columbia Basin Competition in 2018. “The SBI group is adding sustenance to a healthy stew of talented film-makers and skill-sets in our area,” he says. “We’re hungry for growth and opportunity here, and they’re closing gaps that rural folks face in education, experience and support networks.”

There is much to come through The Civic’s SBI work, including the development of an online regional contact database for SBI professionals to find and offer services and gear, and the announcement of a regional film festival in 2020, with details to follow soon. Get in touch with Lynn (lynn@civictheatre.ca) and Aeja (aeja@civictheatre.ca) and share what you would like the future of Kootenay film to look like.