Vancouver’s reputation as Hollywood North is nothing new, but the mayor wants people to know the city is also now a world-class hub for visual effects and animation, third in scale only to London and L.A.
Gregor Robertson took media on a tour of three of B.C.’s highest-end and fastest growing studios Wednesday to showcase the cutting-edge creative work taking place in 22,000 darkened cubicles hidden around the city.
“This industry has been off the radar, because it’s not the traditional resource-based industry that built Vancouver, but today it’s larger than those industries and growing rapidly, so we need to make a bigger deal of it and call attention to our success and our desire to keep growing,” he said outside Pixar‘s 30,000-square-foot office in Gastown.
Lee Malleau, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission, said Vancouver is an irresistible destination for studios looking to expand or relocate thanks to its lifestyle, tax incentives, large pool of talent, feeder schools, and proximity to L.A.
Image Engine Studio on West 5th Avenue, for example, has grown from a company of 30 to 250 in the last six years, and is currently working on the sequel to District 9, which earned it an Oscar nomination for digital effects in 2010.
London-based film production giant MPC, which conjured up the special effects in the blockbuster Harry Potter movies, opened offices in Yaletown in 2007 with 35 people, and has since hired 165 more.
Many studios have no choice but to recruit top talent internationally, and they leverage Vancouver’s natural allure to do so. But estimates suggest well over two-thirds of digital media hires are locals, and the province provides a 17.5 per cent tax credit on B.C. labour to further incentivize domestic job creation in animation, visual effects and video game development.
BY THE NUMBERS
* B.C. has more than 1,300 digital media companies, employing 22,000 people
* The industry is worth $3 billion annually
* 12 studios have relocated to Vancouver from L.A. in the last four years
* The industry is expected to grow another 10 per cent in the next five years
— Source: Vancouver Economic Commission