Canada’s ‘Hollywood North’ hurt by twin strikes in US

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Divya Rajagopal

(Reuters) – Rare twin strikes by Hollywood actors and film and television writers are casting a pall over British Columbia’s creative industry, which has become a hub for American film and TV production.

Known as “Hollywood North,” the Canadian province and the city of Vancouver comprise one of the largest production centers in North America, with more than 50 animation studios alone, employing up to 88,000 people, according to a provincial agency. It generated an estimated C$3.6 billion in revenue ($2.7 billion) in 2022.

Hollywood actors on Friday joined writers on the picket lines for the first time in 63 years. The unionized workers are demanding higher compensation in an era when streaming of movies and TV shows has reduced royalties for working-class actors.

Film production in British Columbia is down to “a trickle,” said Gemma Martini, Chair of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association and CEO of Martini Film Studios.

Creative BC, the government body responsible for promoting creative industries in the province, said in a statement it is “concerned for the workforce, companies, industry, and people.”

Since the 1990s, different levels of government have offered tax credits to the industry, adding to its appeal as a destination for movie production. Over the years, Vancouver, with its proximity to Los Angeles and prized locations, has emerged as an alternative hub for production and post-production activities, production executives said.

Vancouver and the surrounding areas have attracted popular shows and movies including “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2.”


Reverberations that started on May 2 with the writers’ strike grew in British Columbia, where most productions have American components.

In a given week, British Columbia-based film location management company Location Fixer could have 15 active productions.

“Now,” said co-owner Synnove Godeseth, “we have zero.”

Godeseth estimates about 75% of her company’s business comes from U.S. productions. First the business was hit by the writers’ strike: “Because no scripts are being written, people aren’t coming to scout our locations.”

Now, the actors’ strike is taking a toll. Commercial shoots are helping – “that’s literally what’s keeping us afloat.”

Godeseth said she supports the striking workers “100%” and hopes for a swift resolution.

“I hope the big studios can meet the requests of the unions. We want humans to be fairly compensated and for their creativity to be paid for accordingly,” she said.

Last year, the Vancouver Economic Commission described the film industry as an “economic lifeline” for industries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, such as tourism, accommodation, hospitality, and transportation.

British Columbia’s film industry is largely based around gig work, Martini said.

People are hired for a specific production. If there are no productions, they do not get paid. This could leave thousands of people looking for work outside the industry if the strike drags on.

“It’s one of our biggest assets in British Columbia, is the talent and experience of our crew. It’s very hard to replace.”

The Hollywood strike could affect the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), set to open in early September. TIFF, seen as a launching pad for Oscar awards, said it will continue planning for the festival with the hope of a swift resolution to the strike in the coming weeks.

“The impact of this strike on the industry and events like ours cannot be denied,” said a spokesperson for TIFF.

($1 = 1.3216 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Divya Rajagopal; Editing by Denny Thomas and Grant McCool)