June 15, 2018

B.C. film and TV sector previews ‘incredible’ growth

Demand for talent could rise by nearly 50%, according to Vancouver producer

Brightlight Pictures president Shawn Williamson: “I won’t be surprised to see 75 shows shooting within two years in Vancouver, which is honestly crazy to think about now because the number of people we’d have to employ far exceeds the current ability to crew up here” | Rob Kruyt/BIV files

A tour of the lot at Burnaby’s Bridge Studios reveals something uniform about the whole operation.

Each stage is booked.

And each production there falls under the banner of Brightlight Pictures.

“It’s the first time we’ve had every stage tied up at the Bridge Studios, which is something that’s always been a goal since the first time we moved here 15 years ago,” said Brightlight’s Shawn Williamson, president of the Canadian production company whose credits range from ABC’s The Good Doctor to Seth Rogen’s The Interview.

The local film and TV industry isn’t quite at capacity the way it was two years ago, when Williamson estimated there were about 54 shows shooting around Vancouver. But the city isn’t far behind that number, either.

“We’re at the edge of an incredible amount of growth,” he said. “I won’t be surprised to see 75 shows shooting within two years in Vancouver, which is honestly crazy to think about now because the number of people we’d have to employ far exceeds the current ability to crew up here.”

Exponential growth, due in part to the rise of Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq:NFLX) and Amazon Prime Video, could be a challenge for the local industry.

“If producers hear that we don’t have enough crew, that could be a competitive disadvantage,” said Liz Shorten, senior vice-president of operations and member services for the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Media Producers Association. “We’re doing everything we can to address those issues and to avoid that kind of reputation. I don’t think we’ve got that reputation right now.”

Shorten said the industry has been looking to cultivate talent through career fairs and high school outreach. Meanwhile, she said, unions have been accelerating their own efforts to get people working on productions.

But seeking to recruit experienced crews from Ontario and Quebec may not be fruitful, according to Williamson, who said those provinces will likely experience growth similar to B.C.’s in the coming years.

Williamson said Vancouver’s film and TV sector has also had success recruiting Americans.

“The industry here has really responded to the growth in the last three to five years,” said Creative BC CEO Prem Gill, whose agency promotes film, TV, music and publishing on behalf of the provincial government.

Creative BC estimated last year that the film and TV industry represented a $2.6 billion share of the provincial economy – an all-time high for the province.

Gill said the sector has been quick to keep pace, doubling the amount of studio space in Metro Vancouver.

Creative BC’s industry report revealed the province has 2.5 million square feet of studio space spread across 58 studios and 100 stages. Most of that space is concentrated in Metro Vancouver.

“The fact that we grew from 42 to, at our peak, almost 55 crews in the last two and a half years or so shows that we can do it,” Gill said.

Further growth seems almost guaranteed.

PwC’s Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018–2022, released earlier this month, estimated Netflix would spend US$8 billion on content this year. A report by JPMorgan earlier in the year estimated Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) would spend US$5 billion on content.

“It wasn’t comfortable crewing up two years ago,” Williamson said. “But we’ve been fortunate over the last couple of years to rebuild our infrastructure and our crew base.”


Traditional Chinese Cuisine full of surprises

Review of West Vancouver’s Ginger and Soy

Peking Duck crepes with hoisin sauce. Ginger and Soy Traditional Chinese Cuisine uses Szechuan as well as Cantonese cooking styles. | Photo: Paul McGrath, North Shore News

What is it about people that makes the idea of being first to discover something so appealing?

“I liked it before it was cool” is the clichéd hipster mantra, isn’t it? It’s almost as if we think we’ll eternally carry around a little of the shimmer and shine of something that is popular if we were among the first to like it.

I was 16 years old when I accidentally saw Nirvana play Les Foufounes Electriques in Montreal just before their seminal Nevermind LP broke wide open. I still tell that story to anyone who will listen (and occasionally, to people who aren’t even listening). But the way I see it, it’s part of my job to break news of cool new venues or menus, even though I try to give new places three or four weeks to hit their stride before a review. Still, I do relish discoveries and I feel like I might have stumbled upon another one. You see, I am ostensibly reviewing West Vancouver’s Ginger and Soy Traditional Chinese Cuisine this week, which, as I’ll describe below, provided a very tasty meal.

But it was the unexpected pastry showcase in the entrance of the restaurant, replete with meticulously designed, oftentimes ornate little cakes, chocolates, truffles and macarons that caught my eye and led me to meet their creator, Suzannah Yeung. Yeung, who also took my dinner order and processed my payment, operates Noisette Patisserie out of the front of Ginger and Soy’s space, and uses an off-site commissary to create her sweet treasures. She provided my son and I with a sample of her Banoffee Pie when she saw us eyeing up the goods in the display case, which also included a gorgeous Peanut Butter and Jelly cake with shimmering chocolate spheres and a chocolate archway, mango cheesecake with an intricately detailed white chocolate tile, and creatively flavoured handmade chocolates that betrayed tremendous artistry.

Banoffee, which is a portmanteau of banana and toffee, is a dessert of English origins that was here realized with almond crust, toffee caramel, bananas, pastry cream, coffee mousse and Chantilly cream. It was a positively exquisite dessert and one that will compel me to return to try more of the Noisette lineup. Just remember, you heard it here first.

Now, on to dinner. I ordered a large lineup of dishes to share family-style with my wife and kids. Since the premature closing of the sadly short-lived KK BBQ House on Lonsdale Avenue, the Dagenais crew has been searching for good chow mein, the kind that has a deep brown hue, noodles that don’t clump together, and no sign of shiny, gelatinous thickeners. Woefully, our efforts have been fruitless. Until now. Ginger and Soy’s Vegetable Chow Mein arrived as a mountain of mahogany-coloured promise, with discernible morsels of cabbage, carrot, onion, and broccoli, and each noodle seemingly a free and autonomous strand not bound to its brethren in soupy cornstarch. The dish delivered against our criteria for good chow mein and then some, as it was remarkably reserved on the salt content, something that most iterations of this dish cannot claim.

An appetizer of spicy fried squid was a universal hit, the delicate tubes of cephalopod nicely browned in a light batter and then tossed in a fiery, garlic-loaded chili sauce and topped with tiny rings of green jalapeno. Vegetable spring rolls, three to an order, were adequate, if unremarkable, with good crispy shells and principally cabbage-based stuffing.

An unusual dish of Szechuan Pork Belly featured tender and succulent, thinly sliced ribbons of pork belly and similarly cut strips of tofu with red peppers in soy bean paste and chili oil. The pork practically melted on the tongue and the dish had a great balance of sweet and salty, spicy and tangy flavours. General Tao chicken, a staple on Szechuan menus in the West, was satisfactory with its tender nuggets of boneless chicken in a rich soy-based glaze, but was just a touch too sweet for my palate, especially when contrasted with the better balanced flavours of all the other dishes.

A whopping portion of Szechuan Sole had a sauce quite similar to the squid, but the dish stood on its own feet with generous morsels of very fresh, tender fish, battered and lightly fried, that took on the deeply flavoured sauce but was not overwhelmed by it.

Ginger and Soy Fried Rice was a kitchen sink sort of a dish with prawns, scallops, chicken, squid, BBQ pork, and vegetables studding nicely seasoned Jasmine rice.

A final dish of Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy was exactly what we hoped it would be: fresh, light and simple, allowing the delicate, slightly honeyed flavour of the greens to shine through.

Ginger and Soy supplied one of the better Chinese meals I have had on the North Shore and I am therefore inclined to return for Peking Duck, a dish that can be sublime when prepared by talented hands, but crushingly disappointing if attempted by a novice. It is featured on the menu here for $46 for the traditional two-course preparation in which the crispy duck skin is presented with crepes, scallion, cucumber and hoisin sauce, followed by the meat of the duck and lettuce for wrapping. I trust that Ginger and Soy’s kitchen will treat the revered delicacy with due respect and, if it’s all I eat next time, I’ll still have room for a pastry or two from Noisette.

Our Szechuan Sole dish was the most expensive thing we ate at $17. Mains are, on average, about $15.

Ginger and Soy: 1487 Marine Drive, West Vancouver. 778-279-8862

North Shore News


What are we reading? June 14, 2018


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief, vice-president of Glacier Media:

A leading sleep expert says the stress of the world and our tendency to wake up in the middle of the night means eight hours of bedtime nightly is no longer enough. It’s time to set aside more time – Quartz


Please, understand this is satire. But finally America has a president who can stand up to Canada – The Washington Post



Another take on the housing crisis beguiling Vancouver – Maclean’s


Given the World Cup, it’s time to take a look at the science of choking – The New Yorker



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Solar Surpasses Gas and Wind as Biggest Source of New U.S. Power: sunny ways down south - Bloomberg


City of London going energy green - Energy Live News


Australia, U.S. rapidly ramping up LNG trade. Where’s Canada? - U.S. Energy Information Administration


Emma Crawford Hampel, online editor:

Trump is a bully who thought Canada was weak. He was wrong about us: “If a nation of millions can have a collective character, then it is true what is said about Canadians. We are a stoic, rule-abiding and polite people. We are also smug, passive-aggressive and proud. If you like your maple syrup laced with piss, we will deliver cans of the stuff, painted with quaint winter scenes and sold at a mark-up with a smile” - The Guardian


Sam Roggeveen gives three reasons the Singapore summit had to happen. Reason one: the Cold War is over - The Sydney Morning Herald


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

"Data companies are clever and relentless," says Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice-president of software engineering, quoted in Wired’s look at new developments in browser security. But as the story explains, the people behind Apple’s Safari and makers of other popular browsers are showing they’re no slouches in the cleverness department when it comes to efforts to push back against snooping by companies that deploy device “fingerprinting” and ad-tracking to snout around our online activity - Wired


Glen Korstrom, reporter

Exciting news in the transportation and tourism sector as Elon Musk’s Boring Company wins the bid to build a high-speed link between downtown Chicago and one of the world’s busiest airports, O’Hare International Airport:


Albert Van Santvoort, reporter


How does government deficit affect economic growth? A well known Reinhart and Rogoff study looks at financial data since the 1800s trying to determine what amount of government debt slows GDP growth. A problem with this idea is it misses important aspects of both  money and GDP. First, there have been massive changes to the global monetary systems since 1800. The most significant change occurred in the 1960s when major currencies finished their transition from a pegged rate to a floating rate. The second point this idea  misses is that GDP is a measure of spending, of which government is the second largest contributor behind consumers. It is difficult for GDP to increase if the second largest component is decreasing. Economists at Bard’s College produced a study that examines some of the concerns with this idea. - Bard College, Levy Economics Institute


Continuing with the theme of debt and its effects on GDP, the following piece looks at how private debt helped fuel the 2008 financial crisis. The article highlights concerns about countries, including Canada, who were able to survive the financial crisis through large increases in private debt and how that may have just put off another crash. -The Conversation


Working off of the idea of debt and GDP, many have voiced concerns about the amount of money central banks have introduced into the economy since the 2008 financial crisis. The following World Economic Forum article helps to explain how Banks are mostly responsible for increases in the money supply and how they create money. -World Economic Forum


Finally, speaking of the financial crisis, in late May the U.S. rolled back the financial regulations enacted in the wake of the financial crisis. While the legislation was said to only impact community banks, the story below explains how the changes will benefit one of the country’s largest banks, Citigroup.-The Intercept


Hayley Woodin, multimedia reporter

What Seattle’s failed ‘Amazon Tax’ means for Vancouver, from Vice:


The Investment Industry Association of Canada’s latest Letter from the President argues that Canada’s proposed rules around passive income will not only impact about 50,000 large companies – it will make financing conditions worse for small business. (You can listen to our BIV Today interview with IIAC president Ian Russell at  


A company built on a bluff, from New York Magazine, chronicles the history of Montreal-born Vice, now a multi-billion-dollar media empire under new stewardship:



Trudeaumania 2.0’s glamour train is rapidly running out of track

Conventional wisdom is that, while bizarre, it is a badge of distinction as Canadians to have the world’s most powerful person suddenly like his adversary, the cultish nuke-hungry autocratic president who imprisons and starves dissenters, more than he does his ally, our peaceable and sunny-ways democratic prime minister.

We also can’t figure why, after a love-in of more than a year, Donald Trump blew a gasket when Justin Trudeau repeated the obvious at the G7 summit news conference as the U.S. president was on Air Force One heading for Singapore to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Why was he jumping on us?

Trudeau was true enough at the Quebec gathering: we Canadians are polite, we are friendly. But he was wrong by claiming we won’t get pushed around: we do and will, because we are small fry – and there are no angels in world trade, only lesser devils.

What last week’s events at and following the “G6 plus one” revealed was a larger problem: the conventional diplomacy Trudeau’s government has employed to entrench Canadian business interests in America – umpteen meetings with members of Congress, governors, special interests – is proving to be so yesterday. With this president, we are in an era of reality TV, morning talk-show discourse, ad hominem tweets, servile flattery and fake-it-till-you-make-it relationships.

Trudeau’s statement with Trump in absentia, even if it was old news, was like gossiping to the room about the guest who just left your dinner party early. He would have done better to find the stiff upper lip and deflect the same tired question about the “insulting” and “ridiculous” steel and aluminum tariffs and the retaliatory measures without giving the same tired answer. Nothing is more predictably awful than picking a fight with a bully.

It is no wonder he was pronounced the Judas, the leader with the “special place in hell,” by Trump’s clan – and called meek by the tweeter-in-chief.

Face it: he became prime minister in 2015, in no small measure, because Stephen Harper had overstayed. But what we see each week in the slow-to-shape Trudeau is, in no small measure, a leader running short of time to solve issues ostensibly of his own authoring.

What Trudeau has in front of him in the next year is an extraordinary series of challenges through excessive promises, an undue emphasis on optics and photogenic presence and an image that prefers socks over sage. The stack of issues is sizable: unrest in business with the eternal horizon of deficits and the class warfare on entrepreneurs, mistrust in the environmental movement with his incongruence on resource extraction and incapacity to deliver a climate action plan, disappointed millennials denied proportional representation and impatient First Nations awaiting reconciliation and credible partnerships.

Here he is, entering the home stretch of his first term, in a trade war with America, a pot war with senators, a pipeline war with our premier and a climate change war with an incoming one. There is pharmacare to devise. There is child care to fulfil. And, sorry to say, there is a recession looming before long, perhaps by election day a year this October.

Can he handle all of this? Why would we think so when he hasn’t handled any of it?

Let’s remember, the federal Conservatives were hardly vanquished in 2015. They have 96 of the 338 MPs, and the latest opinion polls suggest they are neck and neck with the Liberals. This, despite two- and three-star reviews for federal leader Andrew Scheer, confident enough to banish rival Maxime Bernier to the backbench last week in making him an ex-cabinet critic.

But Scheer is not Trudeau’s nightmare; the mirror is what haunts. Mystique rarely endures in politics. The jury is out on America for the time being, but in the Canadian context, substance and accomplishment at some point have to arrive. The glamour will fade for Trudeau with his followers if Canada is clobbered in a trade war, suffers international humiliation on climate change or can’t even competently sell cannabis.

It is time to pull up those colourful socks. 

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver Media Group and vice-president of Glacier Media.