Saskatchewan

Sask. filmmakers produce new sci-fi digital series in Manitoba after film tax credit cut

Two Regina-born filmmakers travelled through the multiverse from Saskatchewan to Manitoba to have their latest science fiction digital series made.

New digital series Nikola Tesla and the End of the World starts streaming on CBC Gem Friday

Paul O'Neill and Winnipeg local Stephanie Sy star in Nikola Tesla and the End of the World. The season was shot entirely in Winnipeg, with an all-Manitoba crew. (Submitted by Jeremy Katz)

Two Regina-born filmmakers travelled through the multiverse from Saskatchewan to Manitoba to have their latest science fiction digital series made. 

In the series Nikola Tesla and the End of the World, two physicists and a lost boyfriend use Tesla's multiverse device to travel through parallel Brooklyns to bring the inventor back home and avoid the wrath of an interdimensional death cult.

It was produced by Zoot Pictures, owned by Regina's-own Leif Kaldor and Leslea Mair. The pair originally ran their business out of Saskatchewan, but they took it to Manitoba after the Saskatchewan government's cancellation of the film tax credit. 

This new season comes after the success of a prequel season released in 2016 produced and filmed by Regina-born director Ian Strang. 

"He put it together on his own dime as a series of shorts that eventually became a four-part little digital web series," Kaldor said.

Director Ian Strang and producer Leif Kaldor confer on set. Both crew members are originally from Regina. (Submitted by Jeremy Katz)

After it became an entire season of shorts, Strang entered it in festivals and put it on Amazon Prime Video. The series caught the attention of Kaldor after it got almost a million views there. 

"We went, 'Wow, want to do another one?'" said Kaldor. 

Kaldor said they decided to bring Strang and the series to Winnipeg. Besides the two leads from the first season, the entire cast and crew are from Manitoba. 

'If we can't compete, we can't stay'

Kaldor said the film business is booming in Manitoba these days. 

"This year, Manitoba's film industry is a quarter of a billion dollars," said Kaldor.

But he says that's not the case for his home province of Saskatchewan.

"The government in its infinite wisdom there decided that they didn't need a tax credit, which every other province had," said Kaldor.

"It was kind of like if you slapped a 30 per cent tariff on Brandt Industries, they'd be gone in a year."

He said the decision to axe the tax credit drove his company and other filmmakers out of the province.  

"If we can't compete, we can't stay there and they knew that," said Kaldor. 

Kaldor said Saskatchewan once had a bigger film industry than Manitoba, but now it is so busy in Manitoba it was a challenge to schedule the cast and crew. 

The new series Nikola Tesla and the End of the World starts streaming on CBC Gem Friday.

In the sci-fi series Nikola Tesla and the End of the World, two physicists and a lost boyfriend use Tesla’s multiverse device to travel through parallel Brooklyns to bring the inventor back home. (Submitted by Jeremy Katz)

About the Author

Joelle Seal is an Associate Producer in Current Affairs for CBC Saskatchewan. Get in touch with her by emailing joelle.seal@cbc.ca or on Twitter @joelleseal.

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition

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