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Vision 2013: Scaring up business
Pegging Cowichan’s tangible economic benefits from films, TV shows, and commercials shot here is often a guessing game.
Not so for Spooksville.
While many crews are in and out of the Warm Land in several days, Spooksville boasted the longest shoot — spanning February to mid-August — in the valley’s technicolour history of providing locations, labour and actors for Hollywood North.
Veteran producer Jane Startz estimated the TV action-adventure series spilled about $15 million into Cowichan’s coffers — from hotels and transportation needs, to catering and set-building supplies.
“It’s considerable — I’d say at least $15 million,” she said, giving Cowichan top marks for talent and warm welcomes.
“It couldn’t have been better, seriously. There’s nothing I couldn’t give an A-plus.”
That high grade could spell future projects, and their budgets, coming here, hinted Startz.
“We’d love to keep it our well-hidden secret,” said Startz, who helped helm Spooksville’s cast and crew of about 100.
“We did all our sets in the Duncan (Glen Harper) curling rink which have to be dismantled, until we hopefully come back.”
They’d be welcomed by Dana Arthurs at Travelodge Duncan’s front desk.
That’s where “a steady stream” of Spooksville folks have stayed during the past six or so months, scaring up added income for the Travelodge.
“Directors had their rooms booked for months,” she said of suites averaging $125 nightly.
“Actors are streaming in on a daily basis. It started with the crew and artists, then other people,” she said noting stunt people.
Arthurs hoped Spooksville folks tell others about Travelodge’s spirit of hospitality, and bring more cash to Cowichan.
“Word of mouth is huge in our industry.”
The inn’s Old Fork also catered breakfast, lunch and dinner to Spooksville.
“The film industry has brought lots of money to the community in the past few months, through food and beverage,” said Arthurs.
She was also aware of Spooksville’s spin-offs from buying retail materials here.
“There’s tonnes of off-set. One artist told me everything was bought locally, and that’s important for our economy.”
Including small places such as downtown Duncan’s heritage Green Door House.
Spooksville rented Cowichan MP Jean Crowder’s office for some shooting work, and spokesman David Coulson cheered Green Door’s $1,500 windfall.
“They converted Jean’s office into a psychiatrist’s office.
“They’re giving us a generous donation of $1,500 for use of the garden. Jean got an honorarium for use of her space and she’s donating that to Green Door.
“Spooksville’s a great win-win for our non-profit — we can use the money to keep the garden available, and tidy things up,” Coulson said.
Startz expected 22-episode Spooksville’s fall airing on Discovery’s Hub — and on a pending Canadian network — suggesting Cowichan entice more film income by providing long-term set-building and storage space.
“It would be great if there was space to rent for a year,” she said, adding some sets are stored at Lake Cowichan’s former Stanley Gordon school.
Startz also suggested an agency, such as Film Cowichan, create a list of homes and other affordable accommodations for crews and film brass to rent for longer projects.
“You need a network of local people willing to rent out their homes, or parts of their homes,” she said, noting Spooksville folks were staying at various places around the valley.
“It would be a great way to get some extra income.”