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New film commissioner brings ‘vast experience’ to the role

Peter Hayman has 25 years of experience in the film, television and music industries, which will serve him well as he navigates a rapidly-changing world of media and entertainment.
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Peter Hayman will start May 1 as the new film commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission. SUBMITTED

The Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission has hired industry veteran Peter Hayman as its new film commissioner.

Hayman was named Thursday as the replacement for Kathleen Gilbert, who announced in December she was retiring after 14 years on the job. He starts on May 1, and will work in tandem with Gilbert for one month after she officially retires from the position on April 30.

She has agreed to remain with the not-for-profit organization in a transitional capacity until June 1.

The new commissioner has 25 years of experience in the film, television and music industries, which will serve him well as he navigates a rapidly-changing world of media and entertainment.

Hayman, who was in the U.S. and not available for comment Thursday, was chosen from close to 70 applicants for the job. Don Enright, president of the Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission board of directors, said a lot of work went into finding the right person for the job.

“Immediately before Kathleen [Gilbert was hired], there was a lengthy succession of people in the position who were less successful than her. We were intent on not repeating that.”

The former union executive with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and chief executive officer of Ontario’s Peninsula Broadcasting Corporation, Hayman’s first order of business will be to resuscitate film and television production in the capital region.

Hayman will do so at the helm of an organization responsible for shepherding film and television projects, which generate upwards of $50 million in direct spending around the region. To grow that number further, the prospect of several purpose-built film studios on southern Vancouver Island has become a point of focus for many in the local industry.

The presence of a film studio — or studios — will open the door to a barrage of high-profile productions with big labour footprints and even bigger economic impacts, Gilbert said.

“Last year, we needed 30 [productions] to bring in $45 million in spending. One big show could leave that much money behind. But they will not come without a studio.”

That will not likely come to fruition until several years down the road, she added.

The industry slowed to a halt during the 2023 Hollywood labour disputes, and has been slow to bounce back. There is currently only one production shooting in Victoria at the moment, according to Gilbert. “I am certainly concerned about what this next year is going to bring. It’s not just Victoria, this is a worldwide issue, bouncing back from the strike.”

Gilbert spent her first two years on the job lobbying the provincial government for funding in the form of the distant location production services tax credit, which made the region a favourable shooting location for U.S. producers.

“There were a lot of high points during the 14 years. But [the distant tax credit] is probably the thing I am most proud of.”

Her other accomplishments include convincing producers of three high-profile TV series — Maid, Gracepoint and Reginald the Vampire — to shoot here during the past decade.

Hayman spent much of his career in Toronto and Los Angeles, but recently relocated to North Saanich, Enright said. He has worked with a variety of companies on both sides of the border, and is experienced working in both union and non-union environments.

“I think what made Peter the candidate was his vast experience level in areas that are important to us,” Enright said. “He’s not a newcomer to this. He knows what is necessary at various stages.

“Unions have never been more important, and he knows what it takes to work with them and for everyone to all get along.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com