New film building open (finally)
// Scott Moraes

In the northernmost part of Capilano University's North Vancouver campus, formerly a bare grassy area where many students have never bothered going, the new state-of-the-art Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation towers over campus. Opening was initially slated for the summer of 2011, but as usual in things related to film, the project went overschedule as well as over-budget.

The building took approximately two and a half years to be completed, with a budget of over $30 million (although the final budget was not made public, a promo feature by Canon Design stated the cost at $37 million). It owes its name to real estate developer and owner of North Shore Studios/Mammoth Studios Nat Bosa and his wife Flora, who contributed a private donation of $6 million to the project.

The Centre replaces the shabby 33-year-old P Building – now used for storage – as the home of the Motion Picture Arts programs, as well as the Cinematography, Costuming, Visual Effects, Documentary, Acting, and Animation programs. The building boasts an industry-standard sound mixing and recording studio, picture and sound editing labs, hair and makeup rooms, a foley suite, a 200-seat theatre with a 3D projector, and a massive 8000 square foot sound stage with a green screen. Access to the many rooms is protected by digital locks and is restricted to students and faculty members. The new high-tech equipment and facilities will not cause a hike on the tuition fees for the Motion Picture Arts Program, which are significantly higher than most other programs at Capilano.
Bill Thumm, director of the Bosa Centre, claims to have started pursuing a new building on campus over eight years ago. He argues that “the program was unsustainable without a purpose-built facility.”
Financing for the project came mostly from federal and provincial stimulus programs, such as the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, part of Canada's Action Plan of 2009 and designed to “support infrastructure enhancement at universities and colleges.” According to their website, the new film centre is also designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, resulting in improved energy efficiency and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The building's numerous glass windows take good advantage of natural light, even during the short and rainy days of fall and winter.
Moreover, approximately $1 million for the purchase of 3D equipment (including cameras, monitors, projectors, and rigs) were allocated to the Bosa Centre by the Western Economic Diversification Program, another federal program designed to “strengthen innovation, business development, and community economic development” in Western Canada.
While announcing funding for Capilano University, the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, stated, “B.C.’s film industry generates thousands of jobs and is a strong economic force in this province. The purchase of equipment for Capilano University’s Bosa Centre will help film students and existing industry professionals in B.C. ensure that their skill set remains current in this competitive market.”
Thumm also argues that the program already enjoyed good esteem in the local film community, but new facilities “allow the bar to be raised even further.” At present, training in 3D technology is still in development and being offered primarily to fourth-year students.
More than just an extravagant cosmetic makeover, the new facilities are expected to impact B.C.'s film industry significantly. The training of skilled professionals is intended to minimize the jobs that are brought in from the United States.
Vancouver's tax credits, proximity to Los Angeles (and being in the same time zone), diverse neighbourhoods, and natural settings have helped attract Hollywood productions and earned the city the nickname “Hollywood North” – it is in fact the third-largest film production centre in North America, after Los Angeles and New York City. The incredibly large stages of Vancouver Film Studios, the Bridge Studios in Burnaby, and North Shore/Mammoth Studios in North Vancouver have also attracted CGI-heavy Hollywood blockbusters such as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Final Destination 5, Iron Man, XMen: The Last Stand, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Even Vancouver's cloudiness is apparently welcome in terms of cinematography.
The predominance of American productions leads some to consider Vancouver's film industry something like Hollywood's backyard. “There's nothing wrong with being Hollywood's backyard. There's something wrong with being Hollywood's backyard only”, says Bill Thumm. The film program means to train students to find work in the industry regardless of the multi-million- dollar Hollywood productions.
Finishing touches for the Bosa Centre, such as the establishment of a small café on the main floor, are still taking place, but the building is functional and is already holding classes. The bus loop by the building has also been reopened; formalities such as ribbon-cutting and posing with government figures may happen in February; and landscaping is being postponed at least until the spring, once Vancouver's typically inclement weather is past.

//Scott Moraes, writer
//Graphic by Rachel Gamboa

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: