Peter Dinklage, Shirley MacLaine among stars of movie filming in Victoria

There are some big names and familiar faces in town, working in one of the few island industries that has been flourishing during the pandemic.

A major movie shoot has converted the iconic B.C. Legislature buildings in downtown Victoria into "Brockton University" for a film set in Boston, Massachusetts.

Peter Dinklage headlines a veteran cast for the production, American Dreamer, which also stars Shirley MacLaine, Matt Dillon, Danny Glover and Danny Pudi.

Other cast members include Kimberly Quinn and Michelle Mylett, who was born in Ladysmith, Vancouver Island.

Behind the camera, film projects like American Dreamer support local industry workers.

One rookie production assistant, Cheyenne Dawson, says the work is fast-paced but rewarding.

"Days are long but they go by super fast, then we're on to the next," she told CTV News on Monday.

Kathleen Gilbert, film commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, says the industry is in demand while many are stuck at home during the pandemic.

"If you're a good production assistant you're going to be working full time," she said.

"We manufacture entertainment, so it's allowed us to stay open," she added.

Meanwhile, Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, says that having film and TV projects in the area benefits workers outside of the industry.

"Having the film people in town is a big boost," he said. "They are spending money, they are renting things, they're staying in hotels (and) they're going to restaurants."

By island standards, this production is big. But what will truly mark the start of big-league production will be when Vancouver Island opens its first sound stage and film studio.

Major projects in the Malahat Nation, as well as a joint venture between Camosun College and the District of Saanich, are moving forward.

"I know there's certainly room for more than one," said Dawson.

"There's a lot of doors that can be opened with this whole industry," she said.