Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia film workers pan new fund at legislative committee

Provincial politicians heard anger and saw tears Tuesday as more than a dozen people who work in Nova Scotia's industry testified before a legislature committee.

MLAs hear anger and tears as film industry continues to criticize Liberal government decision to axe credit

Ciana Dickie, an 11-year-old actor, read from an essay Tuesday at the law amendments committee. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Provincial politicians heard anger and saw tears Tuesday as more than a dozen people who work in Nova Scotia's film industry testified before a legislature committee.

Law amendments dealt with Bill 108, the Financial Measures Act, which includes the elimination of the Nova Scotia film tax credit in favour of the new Nova Scotia film and television production incentive fund.

The current tax credit provides up to $24 million to film producers who come to the province. The fund, which starts on July 1, has a $10 million budget.

Cathy Lynn Crosby, who runs Sky Talent Group, a talent agency with more than 200 actors, told the committee she expects to make half of what she made last year as a result of the move.

Her assessment of the change was blunt: "On April 9th (budget day) the Liberal government demolished my industry." 

Crosby doesn't think the creation of the fund does much to cushion the blow.

"And now we have a deal that really isn't a deal," she said. "Our industry is hobbled. We can limp along but our future is not secure."

Work evaporating

Actor Lesley Smith struggled through her presentation, choking back sobs, as she described the agonizing decision she will have to make about whether to remain in a province with few job prospects as film producers decide to go elsewhere. 

"I would just like you to take a second to think about whoever (you) love most in this world and try to imagine what it would be like if in a matter of weeks you realized you would have to leave them," she implored committee members.

"Because you'd based your decision to stay in this province on a promise that there would still be support for your industry and if you can't imagine what that feels like, it is betrayed and heartbroken."

Keith Currie, who's worked in the industry since 1979, has seen a year's worth of work evaporate because of the change.

"I had as close and you come to a year's steady work booked this year until the budget dropped," he said. I now have 30 days that I know about for sure. As for the rest of it? I'm pretty sure is gone."

One of the most poignant presentations came from 11-year-old actor Ciana Dickie who read from a handwritten essay she wrote about the film tax credit.

The essay took first place in her school's competition and ended with a quote from Winston Churchill, former British prime minister.

"We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!"

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