Hunger Games star supports Sask. film tax credit
Wes Bentley, a star of the hit movie The Hunger Games, is speaking out against the Saskatchewan government's move to cut a key tax subsidy for the film industry.
Bentley, who plays Seneca Crane in the North American blockbuster, issued a statement on Monday showing his support of Saskatchewan's film employment tax credit program, which was cut from the province's latest budget.
"I would like to show my support to the Saskatchewan film industry and to maybe help clarify what would happen to the industry there or in any state, province or country that cuts its incentives for productions looking for locations to film," Bentley said.
Saskatchewan's subsidy program has provided a tax credit of up to 55 per cent of the labour costs in film and video productions.
Sitcoms like Corner Gas and TV movies like Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story, were among the Saskatchewan productions made with the help of the program.
But in unveiling his budget last Wednesday, Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said the program will be wound down to save $8 million a year.
The province said it has spent $100 million on the tax credits over the years and cannot afford it any longer.
Filmed movie in Regina
Bentley, who co-starred in the 2009 film Dolan's Cadillac — which was shot in and around Regina — praised the Saskatchewan-based crew and production team members he worked with.
"I was thrilled to find the crew and production team to be as good as any I have worked with in the world and better than most," Bentley said.
"On top of being skilled they are some of the kindest and most fun people to be around while at work. They made your fine province shine."
Bentley said most film and TV productions under $100 million look to shoot in locations that offer the best incentives, "even more so than what best fits the screenplay."
He added that productions "will not even consider a state, province or country that has no incentive no matter what the level of skill resides there. The fact is, ending the SFETC [Saskatchewan film employment tax credit] will severely damage the film and television industry in Saskatchewan," Bentley said.
Bentley's wife, Jacqui Swedberg, said she hopes the province will change its mind.
"I know how amazing the film industry in Saskatchewan is, and it would be a shame to see it go," said Swedberg, who hails from Regina but now lives in Los Angeles with Bentley.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall met with film industry officials on Monday and said the government will not reverse its decision to cancel the tax credit.
However, Wall told reporters that he is willing to look at alternative ways to support the province's film and video industry.