Viewers who look really carefully might recognize Vancouver Island in the background of a Hallmark Channel TV series currently being filmed in Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
The entire eight-episode first season of Chesapeake Shores is being filmed over 52 days. Production crews, actors and extras were busy shooting indoor and outdoor scenes Tuesday morning at 65 Front St.
“This season we have a pilot, plus eight episodes, so we have a minimum of 10 hours,” said Dan Paulson, executive producer. “Next year there’ll be a minimum of 10, maybe up to 14 episodes, an hour each.”
Paulson, from Los Angeles, shoots all of his productions in Canada and became a permanent resident in 2015.
“It’s a wonderful place to shoot with all the incentives. The crews are great, the people are nice, so we just use different places, say in Vancouver, for other locations,” Paulson said.
Matt Drake, producer, said people and the municipalities on the Island have been “super supportive” and it’s not as busy with productions as Vancouver.
“Right now in Vancouver it’s so busy,” Drake said. “One of the main reasons we wanted to come over to the Island was we wanted to get out of the fray and the chaos of the city, as well as the look and the feel of the show. The show really deserves a location like the Island.”
The production needed the Island’s seaside locations to “cheat” settings in the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland.
Drake said when the production first scouted the Island for the series there was apprehension about available infrastructure and support. Most equipment and the crew of about 100 people are brought from the Lower Mainland, but the locations are important and there are additional tax incentives to offset transport and accommodation costs.
“I’ve done a number of productions in Victoria, which has a little more crew base and a little more infrastructure set up … but once we got the lay of the land and figured out what was here for us to use it’s been a really great experience,” Drake said.
He said Island film business and infrastructure is growing and he tries to hire as many local workers as possible.
As productions like Chesapeake Shores give Island residents film industry work experience, the local labour pool is growing to meet the needs of future productions on the Island.
Joan Miller of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission said there are currently three full-length feature productions considering filming on the north Island.
“Being able to develop a local crew allows us to offset productions like this having to come back where they won’t be, hopefully, having to put the whole crew up and pay per diem and hotels. They’ll be able to hire local,” Miller said.
The pilot episode for the series airs Aug. 14.