BC NDP to increase film tax credit

It looks like the Save BC Film campaign worked, too bad it didn’t get the attention of Christy Clark. If elected, an NDP government will increase both domestic- and foreign-production tax credits to help strengthen and grow the film and television industries, in response to depressed production activity.

More than 3,500 shows and movies have been filmed here.

“Tax credits put in place by the NDP in the 1990s and increased by the Liberals, helped BC’s film and television industry grow into one of the busiest and best in the world,” said BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix. “The growth in these creative industries has also made our province a hub for film, TV and digital media education with over 20 post-secondary schools in operation today.”

“However, in recent years, BC suffered a decline in production after Ontario introduced a new film and TV tax credit regime boosting production in that province significantly,” said Dix. “To rebuild and grow the industry, we will take steps to ensure its competitiveness and restore our position as the pre-eminent production centre in Canada.”

BC lost 3,500 direct and spinoff film and television production jobs last year, with the total number falling from 39,500 to 36,000, while in the same period Ontario’s industry gained nearly 8,000 jobs, jumping from 43,400 to 51,300. In 2013, payroll figures show BC film and TV production activity in studio or on location declined 32 per cent in comparison with the same period in 2012.

Dix says an NDP government will increase tax credits to 40 per cent of labour costs for both foreign and domestic productions shot in BC. The current credits are 33 per cent for foreign productions and 35 per cent for domestic productions. BC’s digital animation or visual effects tax credit will remain in place at 17.5 per cent of eligible labor expenditures.

For Vancouver Film Studios President Pete Mitchell these changes can’t come at a better time. BC has exceptional crews, innovative businesses, beautiful locations and a shared time zone with Los Angeles, but competition from other jurisdictions, like Ontario, has negatively impacted the industries.

“These changes along with our other competitive advantages will level the playing field, driving film and TV production to new heights,” said Mitchell. “Plus, with this announcement coming in early April, we can expect new film and TV productions to be approved in time to shoot for 2013.”

The incremental cost of the increased tax credits are estimated to be $45 million annually, based on the projected increased activity. The estimated net provincial revenue will total $93 million, based on direct- and induced-economic activity.

“The BC Liberals’ Jobs Plan failed to mention film, TV and digital media,” said Spencer Chandra-Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End. “Our message today to B.C.’s thousands of film, TV and digital workers is that an NDP government will go to bat for this key sector of our economy and fight to bring increased production to our province.”

An NDP government will also take steps to ease the administrative burden posed by the Film Incentive BC tax credit for domestic producers, will re-classify Victoria as a distant location, and will continue to engage with industry and examine other ways to make BC a world-class centre for creativity.

Featured image credit: Susan Gittins, from the set of Man of Steel (Superman) in North Vancouver.