People who work in the B.C. film industry are hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday to talk about the dearth of jobs in their struggling industry.
B.C. premier Christy Clark has already turned down a request for more generous film credits to counter the effects a high dollar and tough competition from other jurisdictions with a rich tax credit system, including Ontario and Quebec.
Organizers of the town hall meeting hope to find a way to change her mind and save the industry. The meeting opens at 7 p.m. PT at North Shore Studios on Brooksbank Avenue.
The B.C. film tax credit is currently set at 33 per cent of labour costs. That doesn't match what is offered in other jurisdictions such as Ontario and Quebec which grant a 25 per cent tax credit on all production costs.
Clark told the industry, she believes other provinces will soon abandon such rich benefits for the film industry.
The bid announced this morning to host the Times of India Film Awards is a different tack, geared to building ties with the booming Indian film industry.
It’s unlikely to do much in the short term for B.C.’s unemployed film crews, who have waged a strong social media campaign over the last few months trying to get the province to budge on the tax credit.
Unemployed crews ramp up campaign
British Columbia used to be the third biggest hub for film and TV making in North America, with more than 30 productions a year. Now there are only six TV shows being made in the province.
"The beauty of British Columbia just isn't enough for them to come here," says Sean Meade, a locations scout who is currently unemployed.
"I can't very well pack up shop and go back to Ontario... because I know the locations here in Vancouver," he said.
"We have lost a significant amount of market share…and it’s been in steady decline since our partners in Ontario and Quebec increased their tax credit to lure foreign production and increase domestic production," says Wayne Bennett, an independent producer who is one of the organizers of the town hall.
Bennett says it’s important to raise awareness about the value of the industry to the province’s economy.
"Now we need our government to step in and say we recognize that this industry creates $1 billion worth of production. You factor in the economic benefit as that dollar gets spent and respent," he said.
"They need to protect the jobs they've created over the last 20 years. They need to step up and say 'yes, they're willing to help.'"
Peter Leitch, chair of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C., says he doesn't believe the tax credit offered by Ontario and Quebec is sustainable in the long term.
But says he believes the province should step in and help in the meantime.
"I’d like to see us get halfway there... the differential of 12 per cent is too great," he told CBC News.
The province has promised to put forward new policies for the film industry this spring.