The state of BC’s film industry

by Kenji Maeda on February 2, 2010

Back in November members of Vancouver’s film industry gathered to discuss many of issues about the state of our local industry and the impact tax credits and the olympics would have (Read our coverage of the event).  A few months later and the olympics around the corner means that many projects are hitting pause on their productions for a major portion of this month.

This past Sunday, MLAs of the BC NDP, including Carol James (leader) and Spencer Herbert (arts and tourism critic) along with Shawn Williamson of Brightlight Pictures got together to send a message that the provincial government needs to take action to help save the BC film industry from wasting away.

In the realm of tax credits, we’re competing with Ontario and Quebec. Both provinces increased and expanded their tax credit program. CTV reports:

While B.C. and Ontario offer the same 35 per cent basic labour expenditure tax credit, that’s where the bulk of benefits end for projects in the Pacific Province. But in Ontario productions can also write off studio rentals, sound equipment and more – and the difference could be a deal breaker.

Back during The Insiders event in November, Shawn Williamson of Brightlight Pictures expressed his thoughts on how Ontario and BC view our industry in a different light. Ontario approaches the Film/TV industry as revenue whereas BC seems to view it as subsidy.

The Province reported this week:

Shawn Williamson, a co-owner of Brightlight Pictures, called the situation “serious.” “For the last five years, we always beat Ontario [in attracting work],” said Williamson. “Now we’re seeing quite a significant loss over the last seven months,” he said. “We need a level playing field in some way.” Williamson acknowledged there have been discussions about the situation with the provincial government. “We’re told something is imminent but we’ve been told something is imminent for months,” said Williamson.

We won’t really know until March 2 what help the provincial government will provide to ensure our province can compete with others – that’s when the new budget will be unveiled. But we do know what the BC Finance Ministry is not willing to do: “we’re not prepared to match Ontario’s tax credit.”

Check out these links for coverage:

Straight – NDP and B.C. film industry call for better tax credits
The Province – NDP seeks more aid for film industry
CTV – (includes video) Film productions opting for Ontario over B.C.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Norris February 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Forest for the trees time.
Aside from my opinion that deciding to host the Olympics here was an epic mistake, the province of British Columbia might as well amputate the Greater Vancouver area as soon as shut down Hollywood NorthWest. Which is exactly what it’ll be doing if it doesn’t smarten up and start to support this community industry… especially when it’s something it does so very well.

I’ve had the pleasure of working in this industry on and off since I was a child. It’s my true passion, my gift. BC is my home, My family. Everything I love is here. If the film industry in BC died… I’d have no choice but to leave, and the same is true for so many others. It’s happening already.

We all must do what is best for our families and for ourselves. What’s best for BC is to cut the crap and give OUR Hollywood NorthWest the support WE deserve. A good economy spends money to make money. A bad economy comes from foolish excuses for cutbacks and decreased spending (investment).

We’ve already seen what can be done, and the best is yet to come… IF the BC Film Industry gets the support it needs to compete fairly with other provinces and the States themselves.

Kanon April 14, 2010 at 9:12 am

As long as the focus is on foreign initiated projects and the locals keep making things that the public has no interest in watching, or attempts to make “normal” mainstream films that fail the sincerity test, things will never change.

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