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Film Makers Hear From Prostitutes

August 22, 2002

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ The movie industry should compensate prostitutes, drug addicts and homeless people for forcing them from their neighborhoods during filming, activist groups say.

In a letter sent to 30 production companies working in Vancouver this year, the Housing Action Committee and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users argue that workers in other trades get compensated for lost wages if film production disrupts their work sites.

``Sex trade workers must be compensated for displacement they experience at your hands in the same manner you would compensate a business if you were to use their locale during operating hours,″ the letter said. ``The same must hold true for homeless people you push from beneath a bridge or doorway and drug users you move from a park.″

Production companies pay federal, provincial and municipal taxes and fees to film in Canada, but the activist groups want the film industry to negotiate directly with residents.

Housing committee member Chris Livingstone said Wednesday that he lives on the streets, so ``film companies are invading my life when they take over these streets.″

Robert Weppler, a spokesman for the groups, said the compensation was not charity.

``We are demanding the compensation for displacement and inconvenience that the industry recognizes are due to us,″ he said in a news release.

Productions worth more than $1 billion Canadian ($650 million U.S.) are filmed each year in Vancouver, according to the British Columbia Film Commission.

``The downtown eastside is a compelling place to shoot because it has a gritty look which really shows a lot but it also is a sensitive area and production companies are aware of that,″ said Lindsay Allen, head of the commission. Government taxes and fees contribute to funding for social programs in the area, he said.

Film companies make large donations to local shelters and food banks and regularly donate food and clothing left over from filming, Allen said.

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