News+Politics March 26, 2012
Hollywood Ending? Prairie Film Industry Fears For Its Survival

Saskatchewan finance minister Ken Krawetz recently announced his government's intentions to end the province's film employment tax credit program, a move that has prompted a strong outcry from those who work in the industry.

Now, Premier Brad Wall will be meeting with president of the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association in order to discuss "ways the government and industry can work together to support filmmakers" in the province, though he has given no indication that the government will change its plans.

The subsidy provides covers 55% of labour costs in film and TV production. In recent years, the province has seen an increase in the number of productions taking place there, from TV sitcoms such as Corner Gas and films like Terry Gilliam's Tideland.

Critics say that cutting the credit will effectively kill the film and TV industry in Saskatchewan, and drive talent to other parts of the country. Saskatoon filmmaker Anand Ramayya, who posted a video reply to the government's plans on YouTube, says that the move will leave Saskatchewan as virtually the only region in North American that doesn't offer incentives to production companies:

The government, on the other hand, points out that it has spent $100-million on the credit since 1998, and Culture Minister Bill Hutchinson says the industry is not sustainable. "Despite our best efforts and efforts of the people in the industry itself, it just hasn't worked out that way," he said. "Instead of growth, they've experienced decline."

One person speaking out against cutting the credit is veteran Hollywood actor Kim Coates, who has born in Saskatoon and who was recently back in the province to shoot two films. In an open letter to the Saskatchewan Legislature, the actor called the move an "attack on the arts", pointing out that Saskatchewan "has never been in a better position to support the arts. The province is the most profitable in the country. Please, do not let this happen. The domino effect this would have on people who currently live in Sask. would be unprecedented."

In an email to the George Tonight team, Kim argued that "for every dollar the government spends, they get 6 dollars back to the province."

Kim was in the red chair last week, and talked to George a bit about his experiences shooting in Saskatchewan - namely, what it's like for a Hollywood actor to go back to living with his mother:

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