Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia's new film and TV incentive fund opens with some revision

The province says it made changes based on feedback to allow smaller productions and first-time producers to receive funding and to increase benefits if there are more local performers.

Public submitted 56 comments on draft guidelines

Changes to Nova Scotia's film tax credit sparked protests this spring outside the provincial legislature. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Those who make films and television programs can start applying for money under a new incentive fund the province has tweaked in recent weeks following from those who work in the industry.

The province announced in April it was creating the Nova Scotia Film and Television Production Incentive Fund. This came after days of protest by many who work in film after the Nova Scotia government scraped a tax credit in the spring budget. 

Funding under the new incentive program is calculated based on what percentage is spent in Nova Scotia, with added benefits for using local performers, writers, producers and directors.

Bernie Miller, deputy minister of planning and priorities, says the province wanted to develop a program that would be competitive nationally.

"Given how it was developed in collaboration with Screen Nova Scotia we're satisfied that is it. The second piece was that it have specific incentive to encourage Nova Scotia performer and other creative contributions by Nova Scotia," he says.  

The province released draft regulations June 2. Members of the public submitted 56 comments online. Based on that feedback, Miller says they altered some of the eligibility requirements.

Those changes include reducing the minimum amount a production must spend in Nova Scotia from $40,000 to $25,000. Miller says the fund is modelled after Alberta's, which has a minimum threshold of $50,000.

"[The change] was to make sure the minimum spend is not insurmountable and it's to encourage a broader number of productions to become eligible," he says.

The maximum amount a project can receive remains $4 million. There is now $10 million earmarked for the fund.

There is also added incentives for productions to use local actors. Productions can receive an extra 1.5 per cent of eligible costs if 60 per cent or more of the principal performers, actors and stunt people are from the province.

Miller says ACTRA and other members of the industry recommended specifying there be an incentive for using local performers in the main roles, not just as background performers.

"There was a view expressed that under the previous arrangements there wasn't sufficient incentive to use Nova Scotia talent in productions," he says.

A third change will allow Nova Scotia Business Inc. to set aside some funding specifically for first-time producers.

Marc Almon of Screen Nova Scotia, says the changes are welcome but people in the industry still have questions about how the new system will work.

"They're not a sufficient response. There needs to be more done," he says. "Going forward it's more than having an incentive program, it's how do we procreate a great business environment."

Almon says the now-defunct Film and Creative Industries helped filmmakers get started. The organization assisted with acquiring permits, scouting locations, training and applying for funding.

He says there are no guarantees emerging producers will be able to use money even if it is set aside for them under the new incentive fund.

"Without there being a more robust support network for these up and coming filmmakers then I really do doubt they'll have access to these funds," he says.

Almon says the summer timeline adds to the stress because it's often the busiest time of year for filmmakers.

Miller says representatives from the province plan to meet with Screen Nova Scotia in the early fall to review how the system is going.

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