Too expensive to film in N.W.T., filmmakers say
Lack of tax breaks, incentives means films set in N.W.T made elsewhere
A Canadian movie set in the Northwest Territories was shot in Quebec because, filmmakers say, the N.W.T. is not doing enough to make filming in the territory more affordable.
The Timekeeper, written and directed by Louis Bélanger and starring Roy Dupuis, is an adventure film about men working to complete the Great Slave Lake Railway to Pine Point, N.W.T., in 1964.
But the film's producers say it was too expensive to film in Pine Point, so they've opted to shoot it in Quebec instead.
Another upcoming movie production, an adaptation of Richard Van Camp's novel The Lesser Blessed, will also likely be filmed outside the Northwest Territories, producer Christina Piovesan told CBC News.
"No support from the territory, in terms of a rebate or funding, is the primary reason why we're not able to shoot there," Piovesan said Thursday.
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The Lesser Blessed is set in the N.W.T. communities of Fort Smith and Behchoko. But aside from some outdoor scenes, Van Camp said most of the film adaptation will probably be shot elsewhere.
"I'd love for the [N.W.T.] Film Commission to just realize this and start stepping up," he said.
The N.W.T. Film Commission is mainly concerned with offering logistical support, such as local contacts, to filmmakers.
Officials with the territorial Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment say other priorities, as well as the current recession, are the reason the government can't invest in the film industry.
Yellowknife filmmaker France Benoit said the Northwest Territories is the only Canadian jurisdiction that does not offer financial incentives to producers.
"And I'm not really talking here about British Columbia and Quebec," Benoit said.
"I'm also talking about the Yukon and Nunavut, for example, where they are trying to attract people to come and film in their jurisdictions."
Benoit said filmmakers working in the Yukon, for example, can expect tax credits, flight discounts, loans and grants, and deals on hiring local people for their productions.
"It is really seen as a way to diversify the economy," she said. "It is seen as business development."
Piovesan said she sympathizes with the N.W.T. government's challenges. She said Ontario recently doubled the tax credit it offers to filmmakers, but it has also spent a lot of money to become a film industry centre.
But Van Camp said the Northwest Territories is missing out on an opportunity to develop its own film industry, as well as provide spin-offs for other sectors, such as tourism.