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Filming in Chinatown

Vancouver's Chinatown, the second largest in North America, offers a wonderful array of authentic-looking locations. There are still many areas in Chinatown where all the fascination and colour of the old way of life remain intact. The narrow roads and back lanes, vibrant with all sorts of activities, are filled with unique sounds and smells.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden – the first full-sized classical Chinese garden ever built outside China, is an oasis of peace and tranquility – a great location for your ancient Chinese shots! To film inside Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, please contact the Garden's Administration Department at 604-662-3207.

The neighbourhoods surrounding the core of Chinatown, with some unique-looking corner stores, are also worth exploring.

Boundaries

The heart of Chinatown today is between Keefer Street and East Hastings Street, running east from Carrall Street to Gore Street.

Busiest times

Most stores open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offices open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The busiest hours are between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Almost all stores are open for business seven days a week; weekends are exceptionally busy in Chinatown. It is therefore advisable to avoid filming on the weekends.

Apart from western festive seasons such as Christmas and New Year, there are three periods that most merchants will not entertain filming requests:

  • Mid-Autumn Festival (commonly known as Mooncake Festival): the second and third week of September
  • Chinese New Year: mid-January to the end of February
  • Winter Festival: the third and fourth week of December

Social context

Chinatown is made up of many "old guards" who braved a long journey and harsh life to seek better life in Vancouver. Many are not proficient in English, especially in understanding  filming needs. Therefore, it is best to hire an interpreter or a liaison person who speaks Cantonese or Mandarin to communicate clearly with those residents. To obtain a list of liaisons, please contact the Film Office.

Useful contacts

There are numerous groups and organizations representing clusters of Chinese Canadians, distinct in terms of political orientation, religious belief, and clan/region of origin in their homeland. Because of small membership and differences in political and religious orientation, no single group or organization can claim to be representative of all Chinese Canadians in British Columbia. However, you should discuss your plans with one or more of following organizations:

Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association
508 Taylor Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 6M4
Phone: (604) 682-8998

Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver
108 East Pender Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
Phone: (604) 681-1923

Chinese Cultural Centre 
50 East Pender Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 3V6
Phone: (604) 687-0729

Ready to apply for your filming permit?

If you are ready to apply for your filming permit now, click the link below to go directly to the online application.

Apply to film

NOTE: If you are filming in a park, you will also need to fill out the Park Board's filming application.

Apply to film in parks

Contact the Special Events Office

Location
Film & Special Events Office
126 Keefer St
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Phone: 604-257-8850

Fax: 604-257-8859

specialevents@vancouver.ca

Contact the Park Board Special Events Office

Location
Special Events &
Filming Office
2099 Beach Ave
Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4

Phone: 604-257-8516 

Fax: 604-257-8501

parkevents@vancouver.ca