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Film crews in Tofino-Ucluelet area drawing excitement and dollars

‘Keep your eye out for the scenes filmed on (Ucluelet’s) Big Beach in future episodes of Tracker’
Ucluelet’s Big Beach provided a stunning setting for a film crew earlier this month. (Andrew Bailey photo)

The West Coast recently rolled out the red carpet for some Hollywood treatment as a production crew descended on the Tofino-Ucluelet area.

While their work brought some inconvenience, with the District of Ucluelet putting out a public notice warning a bit of chaos would surround Big Beach and the community centre from April 17-19 , it also brought excitement and economic benefits.

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce executive director Josh Jenkins told the Westerly News via email that he was “thrilled” to see Ucluelet’s beauty utilized for filming.

“Seeing filming take place is always extremely interesting, as those of us not in the industry are always intrigued to see how much effort and coordination goes into each scene that you see on a movie or series,” Jenkins wrote. “Part of that significant effort means a lot of people to run every aspect. All of those people mean lots of income for accommodations, food and beverage, shops, etc. As well, usage fees, rentals and permit income for our town. Overall, it means an economic boost to Ucluelet, and some exposure for our stunning corner of the world!”

The title of the production was not officially released though local sources seem sure the crew was here to shoot scenes for the American action television series Tracker.

“Here’s to many more filming crews coming to town in the future. Keep your eye out for the scenes filmed on Big Beach in future episodes of Tracker,” Jenkins said.

Brandon Lepine is the regional production services manager for the Vancouver Island North Film Commission and said the Island is attracting big dollars from film crews, noting the businesses generated $11.8 million of economic impact for the North Island region in 2023.

He suggested 59 projects were filmed in the North Island in 2022-2023, noting it was a slow time for the industry due to a writer’s strike.

He said the Island’s “diverse portfolio” of naturally breathtaking backdrops are especially attractive for documentaries, natural history shows and reality television.

“Big union shows are not our bread and butter, they’re our gravy,” he said, adding the Island is rising in popularity for filmmakers because of its “incredibly beautiful locations.”

“We’re one of the most beautiful places on earth and we have warm and welcoming communities full of hard working and friendly people,” he said, adding British Columbia also has “very progressive tax credits and labour incentives.”

He noted production crews fill hotels, restaurants and shops and typically shoot West Coast scenes outside the busy tourist season.

“Tofino - Ucluelet is a global destination, it’s a beautiful place, April is the shoulder season. There’s not a huge amount of tourism. If a larger crew rolls in, that’s hotel rooms that would be empty that are now full. It’s money going into the coffers of the community and directly into the hands of the residents,” he said.

He said film productions pay location fees and permitting fees, rent hotel rooms and buy fuel and that the biggest impact is crew spending.

“They’re going to go shopping. They’re going to buy food and drink. They’re going to do things. On the weekend, they’ll take tours and go whale watching and things like that. These are direct economic benefits,” he said. “That money goes directly into the community.”

He pointed to Strathcona Regional District where Apple filmed Sea with Jason Mamoa in 2018 and said filming only took place over 21 days, but the area was prepped for about seven months with $48 million generated for the area before shooting even began.

“That’s money that came here, stayed here and when the production left is still here,” he said.

He added films that become well known have staying power, noting that last year Hope celebrated the 40th anniversary of Rambo being filmed there and, more locally, Twilight fans still travel to Long Beach and Incinerator Rock to replicate Edward and Bella’s kiss.

“We don’t know what’s going to be a cult classic, but if it does hit we can look at the economic benefits for a long time,” he said. “Your town will continue to see economic benefits beyond just the immediate ones…“It’s not every film shoot, I don’t have a crystal ball but film shoots equal economic development for municipalities and residents. It creates jobs and creates revenue.”

Places like Tofino and Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park reserve can serve as breathtaking backdrops for scenes in large productions, with the West Coast credits including Shogun, Man of Steel, Jurassic World, A Big Year.

“It’s the world class locations that attract productions. They come for pieces they can’t find anywhere, like old growth and the West Coast. It’s just a continual attraction,” he said.

“The beauty about film crews is what they love doing more than anything else is talking. Talking about where they’ve filmed, talking about the experiences, talking about things they’ve done, so it’s word of mouth as well. Film crews and filmmakers talk about a location and if enough buzz gets created other productions go there.”

He added the Tofino - Ucluelet region has a solid buzz around filmmakers.

“The West Coast is world famous. You can’t reproduce it anywhere…You are competing on a global market aggressively,” he said.

“Even just looking out from Campbell Street to Meares Island, boom, that is iconic. These are the things that attract production.”

He added filming does not carry the same contention as other industries on the Island as there is no resource extraction involved.

“They come in, they spend money, they create jobs and then when they leave the motto of the film industry is, ‘As good or better than when we got here,’” he said.

He added the Vancouver Island North Film Commission in a non-profit organization focused on creating jobs and generating revenue.

“People are welcome to call or email at any time any questions they may have or ideas they have. They might have a property that they think would look great on film, give me a call, love to talk to them and maybe send out some scouts,” he said.

More information about the commission can be found at

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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