Producers of the popular Inuktitut language comedy show Qanurli say they have had to delay filming their new season due to lack of funding from the Nunavut Film Development Corporation.

"We were supposed to start production now, but we don't have any money so we can't," said Qanurli producer Stacey Aglok MacDonald.

"We have had to push back to January." 

Qanurli hasn't gotten confirmation from the Nunavut Film Development Corporation (NFDC), but according to MacDonald they are likely to get only 20 per cent of the funding they asked for.

"We really struggled to even get that amount," said MacDonald. "This whole Nunavut Film situation has set a lot of us back and we are not very happy." 

Stacey Aglok MacDonald

Stacey Aglok MacDonald, producer of Qanurli, says the show has had to delay production of a new season due to lack of funding from the Nunavut Film Development Corporation. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

The NFDC has a budget of $600,000 a year that it hands out in the form of rebates for direct expenses incurred in the territory by film productions. 

The territorial government needs to invest more money in Nunavut filmmaking, MacDonald said, both because of its cultural value but also because of its positive economic impact.

That's a line of reasoning with which the NFDC agrees.

"For every dollar we give to [a film production] it relates to them spending three and a half dollars in the territory on actual territorial expenses," said NFDC's CEO Derek Mazur. 

"What we have been asking for is to get at least an additional $600,000 a year. That would give us $1,100,000 or so to spend on our projects."

Rebates versus tax credits

But doubling the corporation's funding budget is only a short term solution, said Mazur. The real fix, he said, would be to switch from the rebate system to a tax credit scheme.

Provinces such as British Columbia and Manitoba have a film industry tax credit that allows production companies to get back a percentage of all the money they spend in the province. Because a tax credit isn't capped, like the NFDC's rebate budget, the industry in those provinces can grow uninhibited.

"The big issue with that is the way we collect taxes here is, anything that is taxed goes back to the federal government and then we get transfer payments, so the process of getting a tax credit to work is not very simple," Mazur said.

One way or another, Mazur said, the government will need update its policies and expand its funding if it wants to see the film industry's contribution to the Nunavut economy continue to grow.