More NS film jobs
An open letter to Geoff MacLellan, Nova Scotia's minister of business,
I am beyond frustrated with a number of your responses to questions posed by Tim Houston in the legislature this week. Your ill-informed commentary illuminates the fact that this provincial Liberal government has no real concept of how the film industry works, or how to invest in it to increase economic development in the sector and benefit the province's coffers overall.
For many years the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit functioned well, and resulted in year-over-year increases in both locally grown productions and foreign service productions. Your admitted lack of interest in supporting an equity fund to help develop indigenous production—a key piece of the funding puzzle eliminated without consultation in 2015—tells me your understanding of indigenous productions is misinformed and faulty. If your government was truly committed to supporting home-grown Nova Scotia productions, you would announce your intention to reinstate an equity fund immediately.
High levels of service production and the success of locally grown projects are symbiotic, and their growth and quality go hand in hand. Foreign service productions create the high numbers of well-paying jobs that allow professional film technicians and filmmakers to stay, work, invest and pay taxes in Nova Scotia. Without significant investment in foreign service production, many of these skilled individuals have to go elsewhere.
When this happens, we all lose. Nova Scotia loses highly skilled and engaged members of the community, and local filmmakers lose access to the crucial experience, skills and abilities of seasoned professionals that they rely on to help tell their very own stories.
Some of your comments lead me to think that you are under the false assumption that service productions will continue to come to Nova Scotia because of our incredible locations. This assertion is arrogant and wrong-headed While it is true that we have thousands of beautiful locations here in Nova Scotia, beauty alone is not enough to entice the type of productions we need here to make this industry the economic driver it can be. It is at the very heart of what we do to use our skills and abilities to create worlds that once existed or that don't exist yet. To think that there are shows that cannot be created without the locations that exist here is foolhardy.
Even if there are productions that require some Nova Scotia locations to set the stage for their content, there is very little else to entice them to come here or stay here. In fact, there are many projects which have budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions to spend who come here periodically for a few days to shoot our beautiful vistas, and then take the rest of their money bucket to spend elsewhere. A child could identify that as a missed opportunity, while it appears your government cannot.
In order for us to have a meaningful piece of the booming content creation industry, investment in a large-scale sound stage is crucial. You mentioned that in some jurisdictions sound stages were "unsustainable." Where, Mr. Minister, would that be? Are you referring to Saskatchewan, where their purpose-built sound stage sits mostly idle? If so, I refer you to the complete gutting of the Saskatchewan Film Tax Credit nearly seven years ago.
In much the same way that indigenous and foreign service productions go hand in hand, so too does a production facility go hand in hand with a solid tax credit or incentive program. To feed the ever-growing demand for content and gain a portion of economic benefit other jurisdictions are gleefully enjoying, Nova Scotia needs a sound stage and a competitive tax credit, and we have neither.
While I applaud the investment you've made in the downtown cultural hub, I must respectfully point out it is not an appropriate venue for any kind of large-scale film production. Touting it as such demonstrates the kind of flawed logic that has become a hallmark of this government, and seems like a sad attempt to pit those who work on small indigenous productions against those who make their living on larger service productions, to create a divide within the industry. News flash: We are the same people. We are all part of the same industry, the same community, the same family. We are all #NSFilmJobs and if your tactic is to segregate us from one another, to divide and conquer, I can say with confidence you will not succeed. —Jenny M. Reeves, president, IATSE local 849