US filmmakers trek to Canada. Many movies made in Vancouver and Toronto

``Give a good product at a modest price and customers will beat a path to your door,'' says George Chapman. Mr. Chapman may sound like a retailer.

Actually, he's the business representative for two trade-union locals in the moviemaking business here. His members have been so busy that they have been turning away producers wanting to make movies in Vancouver.

There are not enough film crews, notes James D. McLean, vice-president of British Columbia Development Corporation.

Mr. McLean figures that the film business was worth $141 million (US$104 million) to the province in 1985 and $165 million (US$122 million) last year.

Altogether, if television productions are included, Toronto does more film business than Vancouver.

The ABC miniseries ``Amerika,'' for example, was produced in Toronto.

But this port city with its mild climate likes to think of itself as ``Hollywood North'' because more feature movies are done here than in frozen Toronto.

Eight movies were produced here last year, including ``Roxanne,'' ``Trip Wire,'' ``Rocky IV,'' and ``Boy Who Could Fly.''

In addition, 12 television movies and four TV series were produced in Vancouver in 1986.

Like Toronto, Vancouver offers a favorable exchange rate, with a Canadian dollar worth about 74 US cents. Chapman promises his members will ``put out the extra 10 percent in effort'' that keeps producers coming back, as well as wages of $16.50 an hour vs. Toronto's more than $20 an hour.

``They can come in with a Chevrolet budget and walk out with a Cadillac,'' he says.

Concerned about the reaction of some unions in Hollywood over lost jobs, McLean notes that Canadians spend at least $1 billion a year on US-made films.

Productions in Canada offset only a portion of that, he says.

Finally, the city offers an enormous studio - an old steel warehouse with 4.5 acres under one roof and a ceiling 40 feet high. It is the biggest in North America - so big filmmakers can light small fires in the place or build three sets on top of one another or divide the space up for five or six productions at one time.

Though it is being renovated at the moment, the warehouse will be ready in July with the most up-to-date equipment and facilities anywhere, boasts McLean.

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