The creator of The Walking Dead has opened a B.C. branch of his production company in a bid to find and recruit Canadian talent for multimedia projects, including TV series, films and books.
While Vancouver-based Skybound North is intrigued by digital talent, government support for the production sector and experienced production crews available in British Columbia, the company is hoping to connect with creators across Canada, its CEO says.
"We're building lists right now, actively, of all the Canadian talent out there and looking to reach out to people who want to work with us," Catherine Winder, a former executive with LucasFilm Animation, said in an interview Monday. "This is not just for British Columbia. We're looking across Canada."
The plan marks a bet on Canadian potential by Skybound Entertainment, the company launched by comic-book writer Robert Kirkman, who, with artist Tony Moore, created The Walking Dead as a comic book that inspired the popular TV series.
And it's the latest B.C. office opened by such U.S. and U.K creative juggernauts as Industrial Light and Magic – well known for groundbreaking visual effects in Star Wars, Jurassic Park and other feature films – as well as Sony Imageworks and Double Negative, the U.K. company that has done visual effects for such feature films as Inception, Interstellar and Captain America: Civil War.
Prem Gill, CEO of the Creative BC provincial agency, said the interest of companies such as Skybound could help the production industry in B.C ride out fluctuations in the Canadian dollar and possible changes in tax breaks thought to have sustained the sector.
"Nurturing intellectual property development amongst the community here is part of this sustainability story," Ms. Gill said, adding that by working for companies with global profiles, British Columbians may be able to create their own global brands.
Ms. Winder said Skybound is committing to B.C. despite the possibility of fluctuations in the dollar and provincial tax breaks.
"This is a long-term commitment," said Ms. Winder. "We appreciate the dollar valuation at the moment and tax credits, (but) we're here for talent. That's what the company is all about."
She said there is no longer any need for creative people to go to Hollywood to get ahead.
"With technology these days, it really doesn't matter where anybody is based because you have the ability to work with people all over the world. It's not as necessary to be in L.A. to do the best projects and tap into that as it used to be," she said.
Skybound North is looking for live-action directors, animators, comics creators and others with whom it can develop varied projects, said Ms. Winder.
She said there is a particular interest in creating opportunities for Canadians to write and develop properties as opposed to servicing stories created in the United States and produced in Canada, currently key to feature-film and TV production in B.C.
Skybound has previously been involved with a small feature film called Air, and its CEO David Alpert, who launched the company with Mr. Kirkman, was producer on the made-in-B.C. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency TV series based on the novel series by Douglas Adams. The first season of The Walking Dead spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead, was also shot in the Vancouver region.
A new series called Heroes and Villains:The History of Comics is also being shot in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and Ms. Winder said further projects will soon be announced.