In just over two years, BC’s thriving film and television production industry will receive much-needed new additional studio capacity to take on more coveted work from Hollywood.
In late 2021, Martini Film Studios (MFS) began construction of its expansion facility on an undeveloped 33-acre site just southwest of the 216th Street interchange of the Trans-Canada Highway in the township. of Langley.
The campus will have 16 soundstages – each 23,000 square feet for a total soundstage area of approximately 370,000 square feet. and building bays.
Two five-story buildings also provide approximately 135,000 square feet of office space to further support operational and production planning needs. This brings the total building area of the campus to approximately 730,000 square feet.
And to take into account the growing use of electric vehicles, the company is installing 80 charging stations on the ground.
All of this is expected to be completed in mid-2024, and it will be one of the largest film and television production facilities in Canada.
Martini Film Studios first opened in the area in 2017 in two existing warehouses at 9390-9390 198th Street and 19714 96th Avenue near the 200th Street interchange of Highway 1 in Langley Township . The two existing facilities have a total area of approximately 250,000 square feet.
But unlike MFS’s first two buildings and most other studios that have opened elsewhere in Metro Vancouver over the past two decades, the new 216th Street campus is built entirely from the ground up with purpose-built structures. designed to meet the most optimized production needs.
“This is a brand new, state-of-the-art studio campus with purpose-built, modern soundstages,” Gemma Martini, CEO of Martini Film Studios, told Daily Hive Urbanized this week.
“Many existing studio facilities in the area are conversions of industrial buildings, but the new Martini Cinema Studios have been purpose-built as a cinematic destination, with all the spaces and support facilities to accommodate major productions filming in the region. region.
Plans for the new MFS campus were first announced in September 2019 during the Toronto Film Festival.
The facility is the largest use of the future Langley 216 Business Park, which spans 80 acres with retail and office space. The film studio will occupy the designated warehouse development area of the business park.
“We’ve had an incredible response from all of the major studios and networks. They’ve been extremely supportive during the design phase of the new facility and want to discuss opportunities to film future productions here when the studio doors open,” said said Martini.
The expansive soundstages accompanied by the substantial ancillary, support and office spaces will allow the campus to accommodate up to five productions for filming simultaneously. Up to 700 people could work in the field every day.
MFS will retain the use of its existing facilities, which are benefiting from new investments to reduce their carbon footprint. Earlier this month, the company announced that existing facilities have switched to renewable natural gas, making the Walnut Grove-area studio the first film production facility in British Columbia to use FortisBC’s carbon-neutral program. .
She says they aim to achieve net zero energy consumption on existing installations by the end of this year. In addition, the company supports an initiative that equips productions with resources to implement sustainable practices and reduce their environmental impact.
Currently, Netflix is the primary user of existing MFS facilities, which have hosted shows such as space force, snowdropsand Sabrina the Teenage Witch. TV shows such as Virgin River, Supergirl, SEEI, and Snake-eyes also filmed at their remote properties.
In October 2021, the Vancouver Economic Commission reported that the film, television, animation and post-production industry generated a combined total of $3.4 billion for the economy of Colombia. British in 2020, even with the effects of the pandemic. In doing so, he supported 65,000 jobs across British Columbia.
Of this total economic impact, approximately $2.5 billion came from film and television productions, including 48 live-action scripted television series, a 30% year-over-year increase.
The BC industry has also been a major global beneficiary of increased spending on productions by streaming giants Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime. In 2020, British Columbia accounted for approximately 66% of all new streaming projects in Canada.
But a severe shortage of production space in Metro Vancouver is hampering the potential growth of the local film and television production industry.
The area has one of the lowest industrial vacancy rates in North America; in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to CBRE, Metro Vancouver’s industrial vacancy rate was just 0.9%. These shortage conditions persist despite the construction of 1.2 million square feet of new industrial space completed during the quarter, offset by strong pre-letting levels due to strong demand.
Currently, in response to demand, there is a record 9.4 million square feet of industrial space under construction, with 77% of that space already pre-leased.
With a continuing shortage and rising industrial rents, local studios have turned their attention in recent years to a strategy of building purpose-built new facilities on undeveloped sites.
In November 2021, for example, after conducting a months-long bidding process, the City of Burnaby announced its decision to sell an undeveloped 17-acre city-owned site in South Burnaby to Larco Investments for construction of a major new production studio. At this site, Larco plans to build 16 sound stages with a combined total of over 300,000 square feet of studio floor space, as well as factory shops and offices. Larco also owns and operates Bridge Studios.
Larco also has two other production studio projects in Burnaby that are in various stages of planning. This includes a 19-acre site currently occupied by a large warehouse at 3131 Lake City Way (next to SkyTrain Lake City Way station), as well as a five-acre property at 7705 Griffiths Drive (next to Edmonds Maintenance Center of SkyTrain) which would see its self-service storage structures demolished for a new purpose-built facility.
That same month, a partnership between Aquilini Development and local First Nations announced plans to redevelop the 40-acre Willingdon Lands immediately west of the BCIT Burnaby campus. The project will include a 450,000 square foot production studio in new purpose-built structures, as well as 5,000 homes.
The new Martini Film Studios campus at 216 Business Park marks the beginning of a production studio construction boom in Metro Vancouver.
The company’s potential growth through its major expansion plans attracted David Shepheard, who became vice president of MFS in July 2021. In the spring of 2021, after five years in the role, Shepheard stepped down as director of the Creative Economy and Vancouver Film Commissioner for the Vancouver Economic Commission.
“This is such an important time with the expansion of the studio and the building of the brand, under the inspiring leadership of Gemma Martini and in collaboration with the incredible George August Patterson. There are many exciting projects underway, so stay tuned. listening,” Shepheard wrote in a LinkedIn post.