Q&A

Sudbury film industry booming while Nova Scotia feels bust

David Anselmo is CEO of Hideaway Pictures and owner of Northern Ontario Film Studios in Sudbury. He spoke with CBC's Tom Murphy about the future of the film industry in his city.

'In Nova Scotia send everybody here. We have a lot of work we don't have a lot of people'

Members of Nova Scotia's film and television industry protest outside the legislature in Halifax on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The Nova Scotia film and television industry is sagging under the weight of changes made to the film tax credit.

In July of last year, the cash-strapped McNeil government axed the film tax credit in favour of a new film and television incentive fund. To date, less than 20 per cent of it has been released.

Seven months later, many in the industry still fear more changes could bring a once-prosperous business to an end. Many professionals say they've had to leave the province to find work.

One of the places they are finding jobs is in Sudbury, Ontario.

David Anselmo is CEO of Hideaway Pictures and owner of Northern Ontario Film Studios in Sudbury. He spoke with CBC's Tom Murphy about the future of the film industry in his city.

David Anselmo is CEO of Hideaway Pictures and owner of Northern Ontario Film Studios in Sudbury. (www.hideawaypictures.com)

Q: What's business like in Sudbury? 

A: Business is booming. It is a great time to be a filmmaker in northern Ontario and I'm lucky I came back at the right time. We have a very strong incentive here in northern Ontario bringing in an influx of productions to the region. Not only is Ontario extremely busy right now but northern Ontario is and we don't have the room. We have the room to grow but we are currently at capacity. It's great.  

Q: How busy? 

A: In 2015 in Sudbury, there were 16 productions filmed in the city. Hideaway Productions was involved in eight of them either as producers or service producers and the studio supplied gear or infrastructure needs to 15 out of 16 of those productions.

With the 15 projects we were involved with last year we calculated a $35 million spend to the region and city of Sudbury a $5 million economic with region or city of Sudbury. With a multiplier in spinoffs that's a $100 million industry a year just in Sudbury alone.

'It's my livelihood'

Q: Ontario has a film tax credit. How critical is that tax credit to your success?

A: It is extremely critical. There is a reason why provincial governments in Canada and the federal government in Canada and a variety of states in the United States have incentives. The impact, the economic impact that a film brings to that region because they are attracted by the incentive is extremely large.

As I mentioned, we are looking at a $100 million industry just in Sudbury alone. This is vitally important. The incentive allows us to attract money from outside of Canada. A lot of films I do have investors from big networks in the U.S. or from private investors from out of the U.S. This money would not come to Canada or northern Ontario or Ontario if it wasn't for this incentive.

What the film industry is doing is attracting new money that would have never seen the light of day here and that is being spent here in the region.  

Q: So what do you think of a provincial government's decision to axe a tax credit?

A: It's very difficult to support that because it's my livelihood and it's the livelihood of hundreds of people in Canada, in the region. People who have to put food on their table. This is how people feed and clothe kids and want to live in the region or area or city that they grew up in but they can't because the film industry is very competitive in North America.

It's very cheap to make films in other regions that have these incentives. In Nova Scotia, send everybody here. We have a lot of work we don't have a lot of people. The fund and the incentive that is up here wants to see economic growth. That also includes having people move to the region who have skilled training in this field of work.

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