Nova Scotia film incentive fund to get an extra $1.5M for 2016-17

In 2015, the McNeil government eliminated the film tax credit, which provided rebates of up to 65 per cent

By Lisa Blackburn, CBC News

The Nova Scotia government is boosting the budget for the film and television incentive fund by $1.5 million next year, a good start says the province’s film producers, but more work needs to be done.

In a news release on Friday, Business Minister Mark Furey’s office said the fund would be $11.5 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Erica Beaty, executive director of the industry group Screen Nova Scotia, said the timing of the news couldn’t be better with production season getting underway.

“Everyone is starting to crew-up as well,” she said. “Hiring actors, crew members that are here in Nova Scotia now, but also Nova Scotians that are returning home, which is really important to us and the government.”

Money will trigger other investments

Beaty said she predicts the new money will trigger other investment from outside government.

“Let’s be clear, $1.5 million is $1.5 million,” she said.

“That’s really positive news for us because it shows the government recognized that these are good investments, these are good film projects that are coming forward, it’s a good investment for the people of Nova Scotia.”

A spokesman for Directors Guild of Canada, Atlantic said in an email to CBC that news of the increase was “positive.”

“It proves that the government is listening to our industry regarding one of the key issues with the new incentive program, that being the budget allocation,” James Nicholson wrote.

Still other ‘shortcomings’

But Nicholson said there were still “other shortcomings” in the incentive program that need to be resolved in order to make Nova Scotia competitive once again. He did not elaborate on what those were, but said he hoped they could be sorted out in the coming months to rebuild the industry.

In the 2015 spring budget, the McNeil government eliminated the film tax credit, which provided rebates of up to 65 per cent of a production’s labour costs.

It has been replaced by an incentive fund, which will reimburse 25 per cent of all money spent in Nova Scotia. The move was met with protests from the film community.

Talks can lead to progress

Scores of workers in the industry have gone to other Canadian centres to pursue their careers after film jobs in the province dried up.

Nicholson said the increased funding “demonstrates that the efforts of Screen Nova Scotia and our local producers in talking with government can lead to progress.”

Beaty agreed, saying her group has been speaking regularly with the province and seeing progress.

“These conversations have been going on for the past year. It’s been really important for government to understand industry but also for industry to understand government,” she said.

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