Cloud of uncertainty shrouds Nova Scotia film industry under new tax incentive


HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia film industry worker says a cloud of uncertainty has shrouded the province’s film industry since the implementation of a new incentive program, forcing many workers to find employment elsewhere with no major projects on the horizon.

Kimberlee McTaggart, who has worked as an editor in post-production in Nova Scotia for nearly 30 years, said people are leaving in droves in search of work. She said she’s not sure if the industry will be able to bounce back.

“It’s been truly heartbreaking,” said McTaggart in a recent interview.

“I have to feed my family… and there’s a chance that I’m not going to do what I love doing. That’s the thing about film. People don’t just do it to earn a buck. People do it because they can’t do anything else. It’s in their blood.”

McTaggart said she does not have any confirmed work lined up after finishing a project that was filmed under the previous film tax incentive. Normally she would be busy until Christmas, she said.

The new incentive program took effect July 2.

Under the $10 million film production fund, projects can get a 25 per cent refund of all production costs including labour. It replaces a $24 million tax credit that gave projects a 50 per cent rebate for labour costs.

McTaggart said if production does not pick up soon, resources built over decades such as companies who rent out camera gear will pick up and leave, making Nova Scotia even less attractive for filming.

But Marc Almon, co-chairman of Screen Nova Scotia, said he’s hopeful the once-thriving industry will recover.

“There’s potential for the industry to survive this,” said Almon in a recent phone interview. “Hopefully we can find ways to get projects coming here again. But there has been some damage done.”

Almon said summer is normally a busy filming season for Nova Scotia, but the fallout from the provincial government’s decision this spring to reduce the film tax credit created uncertainty that may have dissuaded projects from coming.

“Normally this would be a very, very busy time period and with the Canadian dollar dropping the way it is, the film industry is booming across the country, but it’s not here,” said Almon, whose organization advocates on behalf of the film industry in Nova Scotia.

Almon said his group is now working with Nova Scotia Business Inc., the arm’s-length Crown corporation that administers the fund, to promote it and bring major projects back to the province.

“I do think that the system has the potential to work,” said Almon. “The danger is that we’re going to lose some critical infrastructure that has taken 20 years to build here if we don’t find work for people soon.”

Nova Scotia Business Inc. declined a request for an interview.

But in a short email statement, president and CEO Laurel Broten said NSBI is working to promote the new fund “through our corporate social and web channels as well as direct channels to industry stakeholders and news media.”

Enrique Posner, the Madrid-based producer of “The Healer,” the last feature film to be made in Nova Scotia under the province’s previous film tax credit, said he still would have brought the film to the province under the new guidelines.

“This new incentive scheme is very workable,” said Posner.

“Once it’s very clear to people that there is continuity and that the rules have changed slightly but that they are in place, I think that will get producers confidence back up and coming and exploring this beautiful part of the world.”

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