There are few industries that are as inextricably linked to Vancouver’s identity as the film and television industry.
Over the last eight years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interview thousands of people who work in the local screen scene, first through my “Reel People” column in the Westender, and then through “The Showbiz” here in the pages (both print and online) of the Courier.
These film artists — these Vancouverites — are at once distinct from each other and very much the same. They’re hardworking. They’re creative. They’ll film for days in mud and snow and sleet because that’s what needs to be done in order to get the story off the page and onto the screen. They’re dreamers. They contribute more than words can properly express to the cultural and economic landscape of this city and this province. They hold up a mirror to Vancouver and reflect back our beauty and our ugliness. They entertain us. They hold us accountable. They are essential.
They’re also largely self-employed. They were mainstays in the gig economy before the gig economy was even a thing. And for the moment at least, their industry — this industry that is a dream factory and an economic powerhouse — is all but shut down.
Which means my column “The Showbiz” is on hiatus, too, until such time as our beloved film and television industry ramps up again.
(You can read about the special challenges facing film and television workers, as well as filmmaker Joel Ashton McCarthy’s Vancouver Quarantine Performance Project, in last week’s column.)
There is a lot that is uncertain about this time, and I don’t have many answers for you. I don’t know when movie theatres will re-open their doors (and frankly I don’t know how long I can survive without the Cinematheque’s popcorn or the Rio’s grilled cheese sandwiches). I don’t know when festivals will return with groundbreaking and soul-churning programs of local, national and international narrative and documentary films. I don’t know when the CW and Netflix and all the other networks that shoot up here will call everyone back to set, or when it will be safe for indie film crews to gather on weekends to shoot their passion projects.
What I do know is that the entertainment industry will return, because human beings need art, and Vancouver’s artists are still artists — are still dreaming up new ways to tell their stories — while they self-isolate and practise social distancing. And when they do, I’ll be back in these pages to tell you the stories behind the screen stories.
In the meantime, I encourage you to enjoy the work that’s already out there. Peruse Storyhive’s online archive of locally produced short films (such as A Typical Fairytale) and web series (such as Coded). Binge Hospital Show or Inconceivable on YouTube. Watch The Order or Ghost Wars or Van Helsing or Freaks or Intelligence on Netflix. Rent Down River or Black Fly or The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open on iTunes.
If you make it through all of that, tweet at me @sabrinarmf and I’ll recommend something else.
I also encourage you to subscribe to the YVR Screen Scene Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. For the last year, I’ve been doing my own version of Inside the Actors Studio: sitting down with our city’s finest actors, writers, directors, showrunners, stunt artists and other talented film workers for long-form interviews about why and how they do what they do. I’ve released more than 70 episodes, and I’ll continue this work in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Thank you for reading “The Showbiz.” Thank you for valuing Vancouver’s screen storytellers. See you on the other side of COVID-19.