Nova Scotia

Successful Take 2 for film industry since end of tax credit, says agency

The head of the agency that funds film and television production in Nova Scotia says the industry has bounced back from the elimination of the film tax credit.

$132M worth of film, television productions this year

Pure is set in Southern Ontario, Mexico and Texas, but it was filmed in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

Nearly two years after the Nova Scotia government axed a film tax credit aimed at luring productions to the region, the province's economic development agency says the film and television industry has bounced back. 

Laurel Broten, president of Nova Scotia Business Inc., told a legislature committee Wednesday the past year has been a strong one for productions in the province.

She singled out the Stephen King series The Mist, which wrapped up filming in the Halifax region just before the Christmas holidays.

Laurel Broten is president of Nova Scotia Business Inc., the agency responsible for promoting and funding film and television productions in the province. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

"We all hope that we will see the success of that series and see that continue in the province," Broten told reporters.

"We've got Pure, which is the new series on CBC. We're seeing Mr. D continue, so we're seeing a lot of good success in terms of long-running series, and I think that bodes well for the industry in the province."

$132M worth of productions

Nova Scotia has benefited from $132 million worth of productions so far in the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to figures the province said are provided to the Canadian Media Producers Association. The group reports annually on film activity across Canada.

Producers have received $10.7 million from the film and television production incentive fund, which replaced the tax credit. 

In all, 45 productions have been approved for funding under Nova Scotia Business Inc., which administers the fund. The projects include documentaries, feature films and TV series.

The production company behind The Mist has been promised another $6.7 million in direct funding from the province.

Noah (Ryan Robbins) and Abel (Gord Rand) in season one, episode two of Pure. The series is filmed in Nova Scotia.

Broten said another seven applications are currently being processed and about $4 million remains up for grabs.

The last publicly available figures from the Canadian Media Producers Association said there was $67 million worth of productions in 2014-15.

Best year was worth $156M

The best production year of the past decade, according to the same document, was 2006-07 when film and television activity was worth $156 million in Nova Scotia.  

And although the film tax credit is officially dead, the finance department continues to honour commitments made to productions that were pre-approved for the credit before it was cancelled.

Between January 2016 and January 2017, the credit has cost the province a total of $17 million. 

But not everyone thinks the industry has recovered.

Not everyone convinced

Lenore Zann, a longtime actor and the NDP member of the legislature for Truro-Bible Hill-Salmon River-Millbrook.

"I think we're doing as well as can be expected with all the changes to our industry, but we've definitely not bounced back all the way," she said.

"Many of our filmmakers ... have left. They've gone."

Zann said she would like to see the province reinstate the film tax credit, which the McNeil government scrapped without warning in its 2015 spring budget, prompting protests by many who worked in film. 

Around the same time, Nova Scotia Business Inc. was told it would be responsible for administering the new film and television production incentive fund.

Broten admitted Wednesday the government kept her agency in the dark about its role until the day leading up the budget's release.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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