The Vancouver Scrum

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Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Thursday, August 22, 2002

A lot of stories have been running around town about sex-trade workers asking for film companies to compensate them for loss of revenue during location shoots in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Their arguments is based on the fact that normally, film crew compenste businesses whose operations are disrupted during filming.

Vancouver's downtown eastside is popular for film crews; it's run down and gritty. Drug users, hookers, and street people abound. Chris Haddock, creator of the CBC television show Da Vinci's Inquest, calls the downtown eastside the show's uncredited co-star. To re-create the ambience of the area in a backlot somewhere would be expensive, time-consuming, and it still wouldn't look genuine. So crews like to use the neighbourhood for shoots.

Not surprisingly, the idea of compensation for inner-city street life has not been too popular. Calls on talk radio and letters to the editor have generally been dismissive and have had a hefty dose of righteous indignation.

Some typical comments (reprinted verbatim):
Mayor doesn't realise kicking out all the bums from Downtown East Van would have majority support of vancouverites. Poverty is an issue we need to solve, but by allowing them organising all of them in one area, it compounds the difficulties of helping them. Kick them out and spread the people out across BC. I can help 1 bum at one time, but I can't help 5000. Kick them out. Go Mayor Giulliani on them.
If the law doesn't help us taxpayers to get rid of these junkies, drugdealers, sex traders and panhandlers... do we have to take law in our own hands? I am certainly not a supporter of US-Ashcroft, but we'd be better off to vote next time for a hardliner like him, otherwise our "indigenous" film industry in BC will be soon nothing more worth than a dime.
When does the hardworking tax paying citizen in this province get any acknowldegment what so ever!!! ?? We are tired and fed up with the panhandling and street people...get them off the streets and let's get this city looking nice. It is one of the most dirtiest cities I have ever lived cannot just count on the natural beauty to sell this city...not for much longer, anyway...if anything is compensated to these street sucking panhandling bumbs, then I will fight to the max for a compensation for my tax paying dollars!
Let's round them up, offer free drugs and ship them all out to some island somewhere and let them all kill each other.
In fact, neither prostitution nor panhandling is illegal in Vancouver. Soliciting for the purposes of prostitution is illegal.

The argument for compensation goes something like this: A prostitute earns a few hundred dollars in a night. If there's filming on nhe corner, her earnings are messedup; there are only so many corners to go around. Therefore, the prostitute should be compensated for lost income in the same way that a corner store owner would be.

Advocates for the residents of the Downtown Eastside also note that area residents could be used as extras in shoots. Why should productions pay to turn people into look-alikes of street people when the can hire the real thing? There are few wardrobe or make-up expenses that way. This idea might have some more merit, and the production companies might be more receptive. In addition, any income earned by area residents would lessen the burden on government social services.

The fear is among many that if productions are forced to compensate the street people for inconvenience diring filming, film crews could abandon Downtown Eastside altogether. That would be a loss. The productions do help local businesses by patronizing their shops and by compensating them for lost business during a shoot. Film crews regularly donate unused food and clothing to area charities, and help out local agencies like the Downtown Eastside Residents' Association (DERA) with contributions annd in the hiring of a film set liaison.
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