Canadian Film Subsidies In The 1980’s

I came across a CBC documentry made in 1980 called Tax Breaks For Canadian Movies. It focuses on the “use and abuse” of Canadian taxpayer dollars for film subsidies.

There are interviews conducted with film commission representatives arguing that while Canadian taxpayers are funding up to 50% of the film costs, the intention is to create a film industry where they will make their own commercially viable films.

30 years later Canada’s film industry is even more dependent on US studios and commercially viable Canadian films are as rare as poutine in California.

The difference then was that the films that were able to win a subsidy had to be Canadian productions. These days most of those subsidies are going to US productions. If you want to have some fun you can play with this Canadian subsidy calculator. I put in $1 Trillion and was able to get $538 Billion back!

Now the subsidies in Canada are meant to be used for Canadian workers but with so many vfx studios opening shop I’ve heard a producer say they can’t find workers. Remember my post on the fallacy of infinity scalability?

I am aware that some VFX studios are able to subsidize the salary of American workers with Canadian taxpayer money by claiming they’re residents even though many of them move after the project is over.

Soldier On.


13 Responses to Canadian Film Subsidies In The 1980’s

  1. Paul Mica says:

    Thanks for posting this VFXSolider! Unfortunately it won’t play here in the UK? 😦

  2. During my stay in Vancouver for the Siggraph convention I was stunned to see how expensive housing and food costs have become!!! Million dollar condo’s and $100 dinners. Maybe visual effects artists will need union representation to be able to afford to live in Vancouver??? Maybe it will become cheaper to remain in Los Angeles???
    just wondering…..


  3. bob says:

    The best thing Canada could do is unionize. The vfx houses have proven to be completely incompetent of sustaining any market value. At this point the effort lies on the artists to set their value. Everything is going to Canada because vfx houses are incapable of seeing their value and even more incapable of running a business. If vfx houses sold anything other then how cheap they are they might have a chance. But they don’t, it is up too the artists to demand their value at this point. We have no choice but to organize.
    Everyone forgets that unions back each others play consistently. Writers don’t go on strike with out the directors and actors guilds supporting them. Maybe vfx will finally grow up. Otherwise I would say all hope of vfx returning to L.A. is wishing in one hand.

  4. Ymir says:

    Housing in Vancouver is supposedly 7% cheaper than L.A. But other items (food, gasoline, clothing) are higher so overall Vancouver is 14% higher total cost of living. That would probably come down depending on your lifestyle and what you bring with you.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Actually Vancouver is still going through a housing bubble and is supposedly the most expensive housing market in north America… Even new york is cheaper!

      • Ymir says:

        Just one I grabbed at random after Googling for an international cost of living calculator.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        That’s an interesting site! I looked at the details for housing and I think the rentals are way off but the they estimate them to be generally the same.

        However the surprisingly big difference is in utilities! I don’t think it’s a fair comparison because it’s colder in van but it seems to imply that la is way more if you use the same amount of utilities.

      • Ymir says:

        yeah, you have to look at each category individually. I wouldn’t rely too much on the overall % difference. I looked at two different cities and there was an international communication charge, .25 in one city, and $1.05 in the other, a 309% increase, but that 309% was used to average the overall cost of living increase in one city over the other. An expense that not everyone is likely to need or pay for . . . . so depending on lifestyle, your results may vary, as they say.

  5. Hey Soldier! While you’re waiting for incentives to be declared illegal perhaps you could also work on encouraging artists to band together for collective action to better their working conditions!

  6. Kathie says:

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the web to find out more about the issue and
    found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

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