Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia 'essentially closed for business'
Office played major role in acquiring permits to start filming
Filmmakers are facing problems acquiring permits, scouting locations and applying for funding, after Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia suddenly shut its doors last Thursday.
The provincial budget not only slashed tax incentives for film and television productions, it also rolled the responsibilities of Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia into Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI).
Many directors and producers say a crucial resource is now gone.
"To have an office that's so critical to the existence of an industry to be open one day and closed the next without any real alternative is, I would say, unprofessional at least," said Nicholson.
He said at least two producers have contacted him to complain that emails to the office were not being returned and that the phone would go straight to voicemail.
"It's essentially closed for business at this time," Nicholson said.
One of the producers is based in Ontario and is trying to help an American company start a project in Nova Scotia.
"He's not been able to make contact with anyone in the office," Nicholson said.
Resources still there says government
Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia was formerly known as Film Nova Scotia. It offered front-line assistance to filmmakers by suggesting pre-scouted locations, offering direction to acquire permits and helping to prepare requests for funding.
With that office closed "it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get permits, certainly in a timely fashion," said Nicholson.
The government argues all the support filmmakers need is still available.
The minister for NSBI, Mark Furey, said producers should seek out information from his department.
"We have contact information for NSBI. That information would be available on the website and we certainly encourage those who continue with interest in the film and creative sector to reach out through those contact points," he said.
Officials say individual film projects are being moved from the shuttered office to NSBI, however some filmmakers say they are still waiting to be contacted by the department.
"We certainly would work towards making that connection to ensure that the film and creative industry continues to have those resources available to them," Furey said.
Much of the debate in the past week has been about the amount of funding and tax incentives available to film projects.
With the closure of this office and lack of clear transition plan, those in the industry say even a fully-funded project not seeking any tax relief would have difficulty accessing the support it needs to begin filming in Nova Scotia.