Pulling a Vancouver in Mexico

As you might know, all the “cheaper” TV series and budget-minded movies are usually shot in the various studios around Vancouver, Canada. Geographically, it is a pretty good location as it’s near to the US border and it has access to the sea while the Vancouver island in front of it cuts down most sea winds. Only problem is that it rains a bit too much and that shows in a lot of series that are filming outdoors (e.g. first few seasons of X-Files).

There is however, a cheaper way to do all this at a place that has an LA-style weather. I think that either the Mexico government or a big corporation should step up and create big studios in Tijuana, north of Mexico, and aggressively advertise it. The city is right at the border with US and only 2 hours away driving distance from LA, while it has a similar housing structure and it’s quite modern as it’s one of the most touristic places in the world. This can be a huge alternative for the big LA studios. They have easier access to these studios (especially if the Mexican government makes it easier for LA actors/cargo to move freely in the borders — it’s on their best interest anyway), it has much better weather, and all that at HALF the price of what they can get from Canada (maybe even cheaper). These days the Canadian dollar is dangerously close to the US dollar, so I can tell you that the dough the LA studios were saving by filming in Canada is quickly fading away. The answer is Mexico now, at least until the US dollar finds its way up (hopefully it will do if we get a clueful president next year).

At the beginning the studio doesn’t have to be super-modern. Cheap semi-professional Canon, Sony or Panasonic cameras will do just fine (the ones that Indies use, cost between $3000 and $8000), there is no reason for the $130,000-a-pop Varicams. No-name starring US actors that are not paid more than $5,000-10,000 per TV episode are also easy to get from LA (they will beg you for a job anyway). Every weekend they can even drive back to LA to their families, which is so much faster than flying back and forth from Canada! The actual employees at the studios, e.g. hair, makeup, cameramen etc, can all be Mexicans which will be paid at a normal-for-Mexico rate, but low compared to US/Canada equivalent employees. And if Mexico plays it clever, they can even established their own, cheaper, SFX company in Tijuana and produce the film/series from start to finish. Indie US directors can even find a pretty good career there, getting paid about $5,000 per week. Overall, you should be able to produce a Galactica-quality TV series at half the price.

I can tell you right now, if I had a few million dollars I would be starting a major studio business in Tijuana, Mexico, trying to “pull a Vancouver” with the LA sharks. The way their business is going bad with piracy/dollar-value these days, they would be coming crawling to save a few bucks in the production, I can assure you of that. I just hope that the Mexican government or entertainment corporations wake the hell up.

Update: Searching, I only found this small studio located there which it doesn’t seem to be doing a good job selling itself to the rest of Hollywood, possibly because it’s owned by FOX who have under-utilized it in the past few years.

2 Comments »

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on August 14th, 2007 at 5:24 AM PST:

Crime can be fought if there are more jobs. And a big studio can give jobs to at least 1000 people daily, plus the extras.


Moulinneuf wrote on August 14th, 2007 at 4:43 AM PST:

Wikipedia: “In response to a rise in violent crime in the region of Tijuana, considered one of the five most violent areas of the country by the U.S. State Department, mayor Jorge Hank Rhon deployed a massive technology update to the city’s police force in February 2006. The technology includes surveillance equipment, handheld computers, and alarm systems. Since tourism is a staple of the economy in Tijuana, the mayor has tried to make reforms to highlight the safety of tourist areas.”

They are testing the new homeland security system there , with failing results.


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