PEI

Action! Film P.E.I. ready for industry to grow further

The organization that advocates for and supports Prince Edward Island's film industry said the findings in a recent Statistics Canada report confirm momentum they've seen building for several years in the Island's film and television industry.

'Getting more opportunities to showcase just how much talent we have in this province'

Training takes place at Film P.E.I. on a new camera that will be used in upcoming productions. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Officials with Film P.E.I. say increased financial support and a heightened focus on training and mentorship are behind the substantial growth the Island's film industry has experienced in recent years.

According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, operating revenues went from $1 million to $2.7 million between 2013 and 2017.

"I'm not surprised," said Emma Fugate, president of the board of Film P.E.I., which advocates for and supports the Island's film industry.

The findings confirm momentum the group has seen building for several years, she said. 

"We've been working hard as an industry to grow filmmakers and show that filmmaking is a viable career on P.E.I."

Expect more growth

"Especially with the support of the provincial government over the last couple of years, we expect to see that grow even further," Fugate said, noting assistance from the province's cultural strategy and a $350,000 media fund announced last year.

Film P.E.I.'s Emma Fugate shows a new studio under construction at the group's headquarters. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

It was the investment in the industry that got some people to look at filmmaking as a full-time career — like Nathan Carter, who was graduated with a science degree and read about the government investment that same week.

"It was millions of dollars of support in the next couple of years and I was like 'That's it. I'm making the decision right now.'"

Carter is now the marketing co-ordinator with Film P.E.I. and runs his own production company.

"It's a very positive vibe," Carter said. "There is a lot of talented filmmakers here and they are really getting more opportunities to showcase just how much talent we have in this province."

Membership increases

The Statistics Canada report also said wages paid to those working in the film industry went from $100,000 in 2013 to $700,000 in 2017.

Nathan Carter decided he wanted to be a part of the industry after seeing how much support it was getting from the provincial government. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)
The goal is we'd have a full crew, we wouldn't have to bring anybody in from outside.— Emma Fugate, Film P.E.I.

Fugate said that while work in the  industry remains mostly seasonal, more people are making a living at it — and membership at Film P.E.I. has grown by 50 per cent in the past year.  

"I think we've seen substantial growth, especially many young people," said Fugate.

"We're seeing an awful lot of interest from youth in the community here who are excited about finding out more about film and how to get into this as a career."

Industry continues to grow

Much has also been done to promote the industry on and off Island, Fugate added.

Construction is nearly complete at the Film P.E.I. offices, including an indoor studio that's scheduled to open in April. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The group moved into a new facility in Charlottetown last year and is currently renovating a new studio to offer more resources to filmmakers and attract more production to P.E.I. It's scheduled to be open for business in April.

"Other smaller jurisdictions like Newfoundland have really been able to grow the industry by creating opportunities for people to train and get their real-life working experience through the productions that are happening," said Fugate.

"We are looking to them as a model. The goal is we'd have a full crew, we wouldn't have to bring anybody in from outside, to compete with other jurisdictions and give producers what they need to bring projects here."

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About the Author

Jessica Doria-Brown

Videojournalist

Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

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