Crews prepare to film a holiday movie in Summerland on July 29, 2020 (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

COLUMN: Bringing British Columbia’s stories to the screen

The movies are often American stories, with B.C. communities serving as stand-ins for U.S. locations

Film crews are busy in British Columbia these days.

Crews are in Summerland to film The Christmas Yule Blog, a holiday-themed movie.

Summerland’s downtown core was decorated with festive trees, banners and other trimmings.

This is not the first time the community has been used as the setting for a movie.

In the 1970s, crews came to film Who’ll Save Our Children? a made-for-television movie which aired in 1978.

During this filming, a parade was held and a local band performed in the parade scene.

Film crews were back in the community some years later to film a scene for the 2001 movie, Lunch With Charles. The filming for this scene was done on the trestle bridge and featured the steam train.

More recently, Summerland has been used as the setting for other movies.

The same thing is true for other communities around the province.

Some of these have been fairly big productions.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Light holiday movies, filmed here in B.C.

READ ALSO: It’s Christmas in July on many B.C. movie sets as Hallmark boosts production

The first of the Rambo movies, First Blood, released in 1982, was filmed in and around Hope.

And, the town of Nelson was the setting for the 1987 movie, Roxanne.

British Columbia’s film industry was used for television shows including MacGyver in the 1980s, The X Files in the 1990s and the 2019 reboot of The Twilight Zone.

A Million Little Things is also filmed in the Vancouver area.

The film industry is helping to promote this province, and it is bringing money into British Columbia.

But the television shows and movies are often American stories, with this province’s communities serving as stand-ins for locations in the United States.

The Christmas Yule Log is set in a community in New Mexico.

Who’ll Save Our Children? made changes to Summerland to create the fictional community of Summerland, Washington.

Hope became a community in Oregon for First Blood.

Vancouver becomes Boston in the television series, A Million Little Things.

For other movies, the Okanagan Valley has been a stand-in for California’s Napa Valley and Vancouver has been used to depict numerous American cities.

In short, our communities and our stunning scenery are used as backdrops for stories set in another country.

Lunch With Charles was an exception since much of the story was set in British Columbia.

And the 1985 movie, My American Cousin, was filmed in Penticton and Naramata and is a celebration of this part of the province.

But such films, where British Columbia serves as British Columbia, are not nearly as common as the motion pictures which are filmed here, but about other places.

There’s nothing wrong with using our amazing scenery and the spectacular place in this province as movie backdrops.

But I’d be far more interested in seeing stories where British Columbia locations are used to tell British Columbia stories.

This province has had its own unique history, including gold rush days, tales of boomtowns, construction of the railways and even an attempt to use camels as pack animals.

And today, the culture of British Columbia is something unique in Canada — and Canada is not a more northerly version of the United States.

Our stories and our experiences deserve to be told.

And while a movie filmed in British Columbia is good for our communities and our province, a movie telling a British Columbia story would be something special.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
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Stores on Main Street in Summerland have taken on a festive theme for a movie on July 29, 2020 (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

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