Adrian McDonald beat me to the punch on this. You can read his post here.
This story isn’t really VFX related but I couldn’t help but notice the parallels to what happened with Imageworks New Mexico: A small regional government offering reasonably generous subsidies only to be left at the alter for a more lucrative subsidy program.
The Canadian Province of Saskatchewan is ending its film subsidy program and wants out of the subsidy race to the bottom:
Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall on Monday insisted the province wanted out of the tax credit game, with never-ending rises in tax incentives to woo Hollywood and other foreign producers.
“We’re not going to participate in the bidding war that is happening between provinces with respect to these grants,”
The province offered subsidies that combined for a total of 30%. The result?
The province also said that production volume in Saskatchewan has fallen nearly 70 per cent during the last four years and employment in the industry has declined 54 per cent during the period.
No new productions have been scheduled for 2012-13 even with the tax credit in place, according to the government.
Why was this occurring? Well as I have pointed out, there is a film subsidy war in North America and Europe. Even regions like New Mexico and Sask. which offer generous subsidies find productions leaving to get the next big deal and right now Vancouver and Ontario are where it’s at. The film industry even made this clear while still asking Sask. to keep the program!
Bolen said productions are like a highly mobile ecosystem and can move to another jurisdiction.
“And by holding to this decision to not participate in that ecosystem, to basically withdraw from the competition, we are dooming the film and television industry in Saskatchewan to oblivion. It will no longer continue to exist if there’s not a resolution found to this,” said Bolen.
“These other kinds of solutions, while they’re worth discussing, will not address the fundamental problem and that is, that if you’re not part of the competitive ecosystem, you’re not in the game and if you’re not in the game you don’t have an industry.”
So Premier Brad Wall ends the subsidy:
“The industry told us they needed additional financial support to be viable,” Wall said in the release. “But given the current trends in the industry, we decided to focus on other priorities, such as other ways of supporting the film industry, affordable housing, supporting people with disabilities and improving health care, while balancing the budget.”
Once you realize that you not only have to keep paying for the productions to stay and then make sure you pay more money in case there are other places offering more money, you realize it’s useless. The general idea with these subsidies is want them to place their roots down and sustain their own growth without the subsidies.
I highly recommend reading Adrian McDonald’s blog post on the issue: