Film Cowichan did secure an agreement from RONA last year to rent the building in Cowichan Commons, which has now been sold, if a film production company expressed an interest in the facility, according to Amy Melmock.
Melmock, manager of Economic Development Cowichan, which is responsible for Film Cowichan, said the EDC has played an active role in working with the Municipality of North Cowichan throughout the past year to bring prospective investors to the table for the RONA building.
She said the EDC have long recognized the potential of the RONA building as an asset to the region.
“We worked tirelessly with Creative BC and the North Island and South Island Film Commissions, and reached out individually to a host of Vancouver production companies to promote the RONA building as a potential studio production space during the past year,” Melmock said.
“But the size of the building (72,000 square feet) and the monthly rental cost of $100,000 proved to be prohibitive to the majority of smaller producers that have come to Vancouver Island to film in recent months. The building would have been a great asset to a larger production company that may have wished to come to the Island, but the major film producers that have recently scouted locations here have been primarily interested in ‘on location’ shooting, rather than studio locations.”
Shane Epp, with the commercial real estate firm CBRE Ltd. and the listing agent on behalf of the building’s owners, confirmed last week that the long-vacant RONA building has been tentatively sold to a developer who is expected to be looking to secure some retail and/or office tenants for the building.
Last year, the building’s owners granted permission to sub-lease the facility in an arrangement with Film Cowichan as a potential production facility, but no production companies took the bait.
Melmock said Film Cowichan continues to be an advocate for film production in the region.
She said Film Cowichan is involved in a number of current filming activities, including assisting with coordinating the major television production Sonic the Hedgehog which is currently in production in Ladysmith, and providing information on two movies of the week that are considering Cowichan as a location.
She said Film Cowichan is also helping to coordinate a French language documentary that is being considered for the Duncan area, and helping to coordinate the television series Puppy Prep Academy that will be filming in both Ladysmith and Duncan in September and October.