Province streamlines film and TV support

New agency will operate under Economic and Rural Development and Tourism department


Percy Paris, minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. Photo: N.S. government

Film, TV and creative media content producers are looking for a new vision to boost their industries’ fortunes. The Nova Scotia government announced a new bill today proposing changes to the Film Nova Scotia Act to empower the industry as well create growth.

The move is intended to provide film, TV and related creative communities with better access to funding, programs and supports through the creation of a single agency.

Percy Paris, minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, made the announcement at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery. He intends to grow the creative economy through changes in the act — allowing for better collaboration between industry and government partners through a new agency.

Currently, 28,000 Nova Scotians work in arts and culture related fields injecting $1.2 billion into the economy. Paris sees an opportunity for more growth in creative industries that support TV and film such as digital media, light, sound, computer graphics and special effects.

“The Conference Board of Canada estimates the direct value of Canada’s creative economy at over $40 billion per year,” said David MacLeod of Big Motion Pictures.

Big Motion Pictures is a Nova Scotia-based film company, which produces Haven and Call Me series for TV.

Changes to the act call for a renaming of Film Nova Scotia to Film and Creative industries Nova Scotia in a move intended to reflect the new agency’s expanded mandate.

Leonard Preyra, minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, said the bill reallocates funding and supports between departments. Five programs will move from Communities Culture and Heritage to Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.

Filmmaker John Rosborough said any change that enhances or promotes creative content benefits the industry.

“But I think it’s important to retain and enhance incentives that have proven to work well,” he added.

Change may also bring about uncertainty in the industry, which could scare away production work if it is not well managed, he said.

Film and Creative industries Nova Scotia will report to the minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. The agency will be required to produce a five-year strategic plan by Sept. 30, 2013, after consultations with industry partners. The agency will be headed up by a president and chief executive officer. The province is in the process of recruiting for both these offices.

Bernard Smith, former President of Electropolis Studios, likes the idea of an independent agency but said the prospect of finding a candidate to run the operation will be challenging.

“The agency will need a person respected by both the film industry and government in order to able to work synergistically with both groups,” he said.

Smith has found incentives such as tax credits make Nova Scotia a competitive place for filmmakers to shoot.

The Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit and the Digital Media Tax Credit are intended to stimulate TV and film production here. The film credit will allow eligible registered Nova Scotia film production companies to receive up to a maximum of a 65 per cent tax credit on employee salaries when they employ legal residents.

The province’s Digital Media Tax Credit, which was scheduled to lapse this year, is extended until Dec. 31, 2013. The extension gives the new agency more time to consult with industry partners to determine how the credit can best serve the industry.