Supporters of film and television production in Saskatchewan are protesting the provincial government's decision to cut the Film Employment Tax credit, which offered productions a financial incentive to shoot in the province. And a Son of Anarchy is joining the protest: Saskatchewan-born actor Kim Coates got on his Harley and joined a caravan rally that rode to the Legislature in Regina this morning.
The caravan started in Saskatoon with a pancake breakfast. From there, supporters rode all the way to the Regina Legislature to rally against the SaskParty's budget decision to cut the credit. Speaking to reporters, Coates said, "It's a caravan, it's an awakening of a bunch of great people coming together and staying positive about our television and film business in Saskatchewan. We don't want it to go away".
Coates also appeared at a "Made In Saskatchewan" film screening last night at Saskatoon's Broadway Theatre, along with Anand Ramayya, president and producer of Karma films, which produced the Coates-starrer 'Ferocious'. And Coates is not the only acting star to come out against the cuts: actor Wes Bentley, who performed in the 2009 film 'Dolan's Cadillac' that shot in Regina, released a statement in March arguing that "ending the SFETC will severely damage the film and television industry in Saskatchewan".
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the credit was cut because his government believes it is more like a grant than a tax credit, and he said "we're not going to participate in the bidding war that is happening between provinces with respect to these grants".
The government plans to introduce a new, non-refundable 25 percent film tax credit in July to replace the original 45 percent film employment tax credit program, which was refundable. Ron Goetz, president of the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association, points out that if the plans go ahead "Saskatchewan's program would be the only one in Canada that is not based on refundable tax credits".
Minister of Culture Bill Hutchinson maintains, however, that "the old film employment grant program was not serving to develop a strong film industry in Saskatchewan, and it came at a high cost to taxpayers".
Kim Coates was in the red chair recently, and he talked about shooting two films in Saskatchewan and his parents' reaction to his chosen profession. Check out that clip below:
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