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Rights drama filming Vancouver as San Francisco

Gay rights TV drama When We Rise is doubling Vancouver for San Francisco, but is scheduled to spend a few days in California later this month.

The series is inspired by the story of a diverse group of individuals who fought for gay rights from the early 1970s. Guy Pearce co-stars as activist Cleve Jones, whose accomplishments included co-founding the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983.

When We Rise was written by Dustin Lance Black, who also wrote the Oscar-winning script for the 2008 feature film Milk. The movie tells the story of San Francisco’s famous gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn in an Oscar-winning role, pictured), who was a friend of Cleve Jones. Milk filmmaker Gus Van Sant is directing the first two episodes of When We Rise.

The new TV drama is filming in Vancouver until mid-June, but will spend a few days shooting in San Francisco, according to the Bay Area Reporter. 

Vancouver is a regular double for San Francisco, as the Canadian city offers studio facilities, similar architecture and a generous filming incentive.

San Francisco’s local filming incentives are limited in comparison. The city offers refunds on payroll tax and city fees up to $600,000, but productions with budgets above $3m must schedule at least 65% of filming in San Francisco to qualify for the support. Crucially, the city also lacks purpose-built studio facilities.

California recently boosted its overall film fund and now allocates most of the money to incentivising TV shoots. The state is still turning down many more productions than it supports and San Francisco has yet to see a real increase in production, perhaps partly because of Vancouver’s dominance.  

For more on filming in British Columbia see our production guide.

Image: Universal Studios