British Columbia’s film industry continues to make an impact on the world stage. Vancouver is a true Hollywood North, home to hundreds of film and television productions over the years. We can also boast that Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogan and Michael J. Fox call Vancouver their hometown. So what makes Vancouver such a hotbed of entertainment talent and exports?

As an entertainment publicist for the last 25 years, I have worked with many actors, TV series and feature films and coordinated some of the biggest Red Carpet events where actors have the opportunity to show up and show off. 

I reached out to some of the key players in our thriving film industry to get their thoughts on the Vancouver Film Industry. Actors, filmmakers and the entertainment industry will be attending the 2023 Leo Awards being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver July 8th and 9th, 2023. As our industry is feeling the affects of the Writers Strike and looming Actors Strike these quotes are a reminder of why British Columbia and our entertainment industry is such a huge part of our economy.  

Karla Laird, Executive Administrative Director (Interim Director of Member Services & Communication at UBCP/ACTRA shares, “BC’s entertainment industry is in every way the result of a melting pot of various cultures. It’s what you get when Maple leaf pride mixes with an Asian flare, Caribbean spice, African dynamism, and European charm. It’s a place that tests your mettle, where people learn to build things from the ground up, embark on adventures, and are super comfortable with not getting things right on the first try – the perfect training ground for a real superstar. And of course, without being too boastful, the province itself is a work of art – snow-capped mountains, rugged terrain, gorgeous lakes, and breathtaking views – nature’s finest display that consistently motivates and inspires new talent. It’s not hard to see why Vancouver has become a mecca for actors and a factory for high-quality performers.”

Award-winning actor/director/writer/producer Agam Darshi’s feature film Donkeyhead has been winning awards worldwide. Darshi adds, “I think out of all the cities I’ve worked in, Vancouver has always had a wonderful sense of community.  But I really feel a unique sense of camaraderie and caring from my peers. Everyone is rooting for everyone. Don’t know why it’s like that here, but I suspect we live in a bubble in Vancouver, and so you need to be able to count on others to make it through this crazy business. We are our own little world. It’s like a small town big city; everyone knows each other and supports when they can.”

John Cassini is also an award-winning actor/producer who has worked in Vancouver for over 30 years. Cassini was fortunate to work on several TV series back in the late ’80s in Vancouver when Stephen J. Cannell set up shop and brought multiple shows including Wiseguy and 21 Jump Street introducing Vancouver to the world. John moved back to Los Angeles in 1992. On his return to Vancouver in 2014, John started producing.  “I knew that there were projects that if I didn’t roll up my sleeves they would never get made. Our community would always be there to support productions in front and behind the camera. The training we all benefited from in our service industry paid dividends when making our local Independent Feature Films.”

So are we a bunch of show-offs? We should be! We have built a unique community that supports and maintains an entertainment ecosystem unlike any other. But we are Canadian, so we aren’t known to brag.  

Photo credits:  Phillip Chin at the 2022 Leo Awards

1. Agam Darshi and Stephen Lobo

2. John Cassini with Kelly Williams

3. Karla and Twayson Laird

Article by Lesley Diana