Creative BC’s two Location Consultants, Mathew Parry and Seán Cummings continue their visits to the regional film offices, this time in Kelowna where they met with Film Commissioner, Jon Summerland of the Okanagan Film Commission.
The first stop was just minutes from the airport: a new, purpose-built studio constructed by Eagle Creek. Comprising more than 22,000 square feet, the space also includes offices and room for a mill shop, ‘set-dec’ and wardrobe. As they toured the building, Mathew and Seán could see that it was very close to completion, and it is anticipated that the studio will welcome its first production in January 2018.
Heading north from the studio, they drove along the shores of Kalamalka Lake, before driving through the new Predator Ridge development, a “golf resort community” featuring some of the best golf courses in the country.
From there they headed to the more pleasingly named, Sparkling Hill Resort. This beautiful mountain-top hotel, spa and wellness center is the realization of a dream by one Mr. Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the famous crystal family. As you might imagine, the place literally sparkles, thanks to three and a half million Swarovski crystals that are placed throughout the resort, many of them incorporated into a spectacular modern chandelier that hangs in the reception atrium.
This glittering facility contrasted nicely with the much more ordinary glass of the next location – the former Lavington Glass Plant on the outskirts of Vernon. New owner, Mike Molnar, took Seán and Mathew on a thorough tour of the property that covers 96 acres, and until recently was home to 300 workers. Now largely empty, the ultimate intention is for the building to again host a variety of different manufacturing outputs, but until those take up residence, the vast, cavernous interiors present the perfect industrial backdrop to any interested film project. The new owner was also keen to show the location consultants the roof of the building. All 7 acres of it!
Following lunch in Vernon, Mathew and Seán toured the city before heading towards Silver Star Mountain. Last stop of the day was at the Fintry Provincial Park where they did a short hike and climbed to see the spectacular waterfall for which the park is known.
After a stay The Cove Lakeside Resort for the night, beautifully situated on the western shore of Okanagan Lake, Seán and Mathew took the opportunity to have breakfast with Leasa Kennedy, Director of Sales and Marketing after a good night’s sleep. Leasa was keen to emphasize her team’s “can do” attitude when it came to accommodating film crews – a sentiment and stance that was expressed by everyone met during the tour of the region.
Vineyards were first item on the agenda after breakfast: at Quails Gate, The Hatch, and Mission Hill in quick succession. The latter one of these was particularly spectacular, occupying an elevated promontory, high above the lake. A cluster of modern buildings inspired by classical Mediterranean architecture provides space for a restaurant, tasting rooms, shop, offices and information center, but the real treat is hidden below these facilities – a massive modern cave, blasted out of the volcanic rock, and now housing eight hundred of barrels of maturing wine. The air was heady, and the darkened space felt almost holy – a cathedral to wine.
All wine vapors were blown away at their next stop, the short-lived Kelowna Mountain resort development which opened fleetingly in November 2013, but now languishes abandoned and dilapidated atop a mountain. Jon had gained permission to visit the secure site, and they were able to tour the inhospitable welcome center and see the tiered patio full of empty tables. They crossed a bouncy, steel suspension bridge, and entered another wine cave – this one patently abandoned. Unused and forlorn.
Lunch cheered them up at the fun and funky Pulp Fiction Coffee House, where classic 50s kitsch combines with books and food in a retro atmosphere in downtown Kelowna. From there they toured the rest of the downtown area and residential neighborhoods, before meeting up with the guys running the Film Factory, a converted candy factory now offering a variety of production services, and studio, facility and equipment rental. Again, the versatile and confident “we can help you with that” attitude they had encountered previously was very much in evidence, with owners Jeff Myers and Kelly Veltri detailing the spectrum of services the Film Factory offered, from audio engineering to theatre rental.
En-route to Kelowna Airport Mathew and Seán made one last stop, to say hello to a production team led by director Vic Sarin, who were in the process of setting up their temporary production office in an empty industrial facility on the edge of town. Mr Sarin was enthusiastic in his praise for the Okanagan, and this was not his first production to film in the region; he knows it well.
On leaving it was terrific to see tangible evidence of a crew excited to utilize everything the region has to offer. Anticipate seeing many more excited film crews expressing their delight at filming in such an adaptable and versatile spot, as the production infrastructure continues to expand and develop throughout the Okanagan.