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Downtown Chilliwack braces for major movie shoot

Downtown merchants were buzzing this week following news the biggest movie production in the city’s history will start filming here in May.

Chilliwack BIA executive director Kyle Williams confirmed today that there will be a major motion picture filmed in the downtown area next month.

The Chilliwack BIA and the City of Chilliwack are scheduled to sit down with the assistant location manager, Michael LeGresley, Friday morning.

He said every effort will be made to avoid disruption in the downtown. Nonetheless, the production will be felt.

“We are going to be there in a big way,” he said. “This is probably the largest project that has ever come across Chilliwack.”

Plans are in place for crews to film during two separate weeks in May, for a total of eight days of shooting.

The geographic area they’re looking at is huge — approximately 16 square blocks surrounding Five Corners.

“This is a very substantial closure, and we will make our best efforts to make sure that everyone is accommodated, from customers to merchants to residents,” said LeGresley.

Crews will have a balloon effect on the area. At the beginning of the weeks they’ll be using the largest section of the downtown area needed and gradually get smaller. There will be fewer road closures come Friday and Saturday, which is when stores and restaurants are most busy.

“We want to maintain business to all of the merchants. We don’t want the merchants to close down, and we are doing our best to keep them open,” said LeGresley.

Details about the production are still being kept tight. Officials will only say it’s a major production that will be filmed in Chilliwack and at locations throughout the Fraser Valley.

There’s no word on who the movie will star.

One thing that cities sometimes forget, LeGresley added, is that film production is a boom to the local tourism industry; film locations become a tourist attraction.

After movies hit the big screen, people from all over the world want to visit the filming sites. Once the Twilight Saga movies ran, people from Brazil, New Zealand, Australia and Europe flocked to Metro Vancouver.

“Chilliwack will be put on the map internationally. This is a worldwide commercial for Chilliwack,” he said.

Film production in Chilliwack has been relatively quiet ever since the cancelation of the sci-fi TV series Eureka in 2012. That production routinely closed sections of the downtown, often transforming Wellington Avenue into a small midwestern town.

Economic impact of the production was significant.

Indeed, in 2012 more than $350 million was spent on film production in B.C.

Filming recently wrapped up in Agassiz, where M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines has been in production. The 10-episode FOX TV series stars Matt Dillon, who plays a secret service agent sent to a small town to investigate the disappearance of two federal officers.

photo@theprogress.com
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