Film industry fearful of final cut!
Gold, a movie shot last year in Kamloops, Cache Creek and Big Bar, will be featured at the Berlin Film Festival in Germany next month — and that’s good news for Vicci Weller.
The executive director of the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission said her office will use that inclusion to help promote the area to other filmmakers who will be at the annual event.
It’s work that needs to be done more now than ever, as an increasing number of movies and other film projects head east to take advantage of tax credits in Ontario and Quebec.
With them, Weller said, go many of the top producers of the province, creating a brain drain that also jeopardizes the film infrastructure that has developed through the years in B.C.
B.C. tax credits for filmmakers only apply to labour, whereas in Ontario and Quebec, they apply to every aspect of work involved.
Weller said she is working with three projects now that are eyeing the Kamloops area primarily for location shots.
Only one is a big-budget film and it is not scheduled to start production until next year.
Right now, she’s been showing location scouts areas that might work for them.
Computer-generated imagery is a challenge when selling locations, given what some keystrokes and software background scenery can create.
Nevertheless, Weller said, there is still a need for the big location shots.
On average, the film industry in the Thompson-Nicola region brings in between $1 million and $3 million, with an economic spinoff that can reach as high as $9 million.
Meanwhile, the B.C. government is working on ways to hold onto movie, TV and video game production, as Hollywood shifts work to other provinces and countries that attract them with generous subsidies and tax breaks.
But that won’t involve matching generous tax credits offered by Ontario and Quebec, said Bill Bennett, B.C.’s minister of community, sport and cultural development.
“I understand why the film and TV and digital media industries are concerned,” Bennett said. “What the film industry seems to want mainly is for us to match the tax credits that are available in Ontario, and we can’t do that.”
Bennett said he is working on a new policy that will “clean up and simplify” the business environment for the industry, which is looking at further costs as B.C. prepares to phase out the harmonized sales tax in March.
Movie industry insiders say most of B.C.’s movie crews are out of work as 2013 begins.
One of those is Lee Cleary, assistant director on such B.C.-made movies as The Hurt Locker, Fantastic 4 and the first X-Men movies.
“The last project that I worked on in B.C. was in 2009, on The A Team,” Cleary said from his home in Vancouver, where he has lived for 10 years.
“Since then, the blockbuster films have not been coming here.”
— with files from Black Press