Kevin Rankin

TV crews leave cash trail behind

Gracepoint financial legacy larger than first anticipated

Gracepoint productions has only been here four months, but Oak Bay could be cashing in for years to come.

With less than a month before the cast and crew of Gracepoint pack up and leave Oak Bay and many other filming locations across the South Island, the economic spinoff the municipality will enjoy may be greater than was foreseen.

“It is a rising tide lifting all economic boats throughout the region,” says Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “When you look at the region they are real and substantial. The estimate I have seen for the economic boost will be probably something in the area of $10 to $15-million injected into the local economy.”

He says parking and permits in Oak Bay alone could approach $20,000 going into municipal coffers and the budget for the series approached $250,000 per day. While there are real disruptions for some residents, including a handful whose complaints ranged from late-evening filming and noise disruption, he says the overall community benefit outweighs the inconvenience.

“We appreciate that there is dislocation involved both in residential and business, but you have to step back and look at the overall picture, and this is good for the region,” Jensen says. “The Gracepoint people have reacted graciously and courteously and reached an accommodation with the neighbours. If there is going to be excessive disruption they will offer financial benefit or put them in a hotel for the night.”

Victoria Film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert was excited to host Gracepoint in Greater Victoria and said the amount film producers spend in any region should not be underestimated.

“The film company purchases things that every family purchases, so if you can, imagine the things you use throughout the year from gas and hair styling products, to propane to clothing. They buy a lot of clothing in a movie,” she says. “They have spent $2 million on accommodations alone.”

Isa Hosein has seen some of the economic benefit. The co-owner of the Oaks Restaurant on Oak Bay Avenue has been closing his entire restaurant for two days at a time, renting the facility to the Gracepoint crew as a filming location. He’s excited about the prospect of more rentals and the additional traffic the show has created for his restaurant.

“The economic impact has been quite positive, it has put us on the map a little bit in terms of exposure,” Hosein says. “Everyone knows what is going on with Gracepoint around here and on days we close … those days are always challenging for us, (but) over the long term it will be a total benefit.”

He learned in December 2013 that the Oaks would be turned into the Crestview Rooms and Pub for the high-profile Fox television show and has already been paid for 12 full-day rentals and expects more as the show continues.

“Oak Bay Ave. is going to be portrayed on network U.S. TV as Gracepoint, we all know what that does for us come tourist season. Everyone wants to come see where it all happened,” he says. “The best part hasn’t come yet. The best part is when it airs and the whole world gets to see.”

Gilbert agrees and the former location manager is hopeful the economic benefit for the community will continue well beyond May, when the entirety of the 10-episode first season’s principal photography will be complete.

“For Oak Bay … I don’t think you can underestimate the power of film tourism when it comes to a show like this. It’s a very popular film and the (show) it’s based on has resulted in film tourism in the city it was filmed in in the U.K. I don’t see why it would be different here,” she said. “If you Google Oak Bay now you get a lot more hits than you did before Gracepoint started filming.”

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