BC Film Employment At Lowest In 13 years

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 4.54.42 PM

Raw data available here

There’s been much speculation concerning film employment in BC. I was interested in seeing what public data I could get my eyes on and found a very good chunk of information. Let me present the numbers analysis first and describe the methodology after.

BC Film Employment Lowest in Decade

The graph above shows monthly seasonly unadjusted film and television employment numbers in the province of BC, Ontario, and Quebec going all the way back to 1991.

The first observation that can be made is that there has been a recent and steep drop off in employment in BC and a surge in employment in Ontario. The most recent number is from October 2012 and it shows 4,658 employees, a 46% drop from 8,588 in October of 2012. In fact, the last time BC has seen film employment this low was October of 1999.

Data from the mid-2000s is missing because it was “Suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act” according to the government site.

BC Film Employment Has Rarely Competed with Ontario and Quebec

The only time the data has shown BC employment actually beating Ontario or Quebec only happened for a few months in 2010 when employment barely beat Quebec.

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 4.52.57 PM

Raw data available here

BC Government Expenditures for Film are at an All Time High

The graph above was taken from public budget numbers for the Film & Television Tax Credit and Production Services Tax Credit. This year spending by the government has reached a record high of almost $300 million.


Before anyone comments to dispute these number please read below.

The employment data was taken from Statistics Canada which is a database of government statistics. Film & television employment is broadly categorized under the North American Industry Classification system which is also used by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. It includes Film, TV series, commercials, and post-production.

The subsidy data is taken from various BC budgets from 2002 to 2012.

Soldier On.


30 Responses to BC Film Employment At Lowest In 13 years

  1. Bill W says:

    Do you have a stat on how many of your posts are on attacking BC rather than the global subsidy issue? You seem to focus on this rather than most of the other subsidies.

    You used to have a fair view but these days it seems hell bent on attacking BC. fyi I am not in BC so this is an un biased view on what yuor motives have turned into.

    I cannot see the like of vfx soldier and dave rand actually convincing the rest of the world to unionize. Congrats…

    • VFX Soldier says:

      The BC issue is an important one concerning subsidies. I’ve argued that the problem with them is that US Studios are looking to get governments to engage in a bidding war for their films where they benefit. Taxpayers lose, and so do film workers who are forced to move from location to location.

      Some people disagree with my premise but when I back it up with facts people get upset. What I’ve been saying seems to be true: BC is throwing millions and more each year and yet some other government is ready to outbid them only to lead to lower employment.

      • atlas says:

        All the challenges I read stem from the same exact place that L.A. artists have been feeling for years. The fear of losing their livelyhood, well welcome to reality people. You may think Ca artists are a threat, and sure they very well could be, but you too will be replaced for cheaper labor or incentives at the drop of a hat. Just imagine how horrible that would feel if it actually was your country men that pushed you aside for cheaper labor. Welcome to the real world people. You can’t rely on HW anymore then the rest of us and you will have your job ripped from your hands as well. Get used to the idea, especially since it is obvious that you don’t see a problem ripping it from others. You will be replaced, get over it, isn’t that what you expect l.a. artists to do?

    • I dont think he’s attacking BC. I think BC is one of the only countries with actual data that can be found. Or it might just be the most relatable to the US, so its easy to make a similar connection. If BC is having this problem then the US probably is too. If you’d like to provide data from other countries I’m sure VFX Solider and the rest of the community would be delighted to read it.

    • P-Fi says:

      When Albuquerque was having issue with Sony that’s what you read about on here. When it was DD Florida that’s what we heard about. Both in the US.

      BC film incentives are current news because of the whole “Save BC” movement. It’s current news for the VFX industry that’s why we are reading about it. There is no personal attack on any particular region.

  2. LMP says:

    Besides artists being replaced by cheaper labor, artists themselves have to move to different locations a few times a year (for some) with an ever eroding income and ever expanding cost of living (not to mention the lowering of quality of life).
    As long as people continue to think that individually they will take care of themselves and their own work issues things will just continue to degrade until something gives…

  3. Andreas Jablonka says:

    out of curiosity, has vfxsoldier actually contacted the people running the saveBCFilm campaign with these findings? I have these discussions daily at work (In Vancouncer, as transplant LA artist on a work permit that allowed me to follow LA job to Vancouver for a lower rate,higher cost of living and higher taxes than CA. Im gaining a job vs no jobs, health care for the higher taxes and a rainy city instead of sun.

    Some Artist dont do the math right. some accuse hollywood having bigger issue than the subsidies (which is partially true) and think the depression in LA cannot possible be based on the leaving jobs to other states and countries (which is the main reason for despair). BC is just the bigger winner in LA’s misfortune, maybe this will change to montreal in 3 months. LA could try to match the incentives like many suggest but a) they cannot afford it, b) it will be the same as what bcfilm suggest, raising government funding/rebate/subsidy to match someones sunsidy which is the race to the bottom.

    eliminating worldwide subsidy to level the playing field is the first step. then let bc, LA, London and AU/NZ compete on merrit and quality alone. some will will flow back to LA for convenience, some will go to bc because the workforce is established now, some will go to London as they also proven their worth. au/nz will keep its share, weta for their class, au for their own industry or at least films shot in au. some will will no doubt end up in india and china but till they raise the quality to match the western world it wont be a treat. that scarecrow is an old one, believe me, if all work COULD be done in india/china, producers would have send it there 5 years ago. it cannot be done to the acceptable standard if western audiences. and im thankful for that…


  4. Nice job on finding and compiling all of these numbers. I would caution against using individual months or comparing them against one another. One month could be very high and the next very low. For example, on month there could be 10 shows in production and the next they could all have wrapped and jobs would go from a peak to a plummet.

    The other thing to remember is that even if total jobs have declined, spending really has not.

  5. Paul says:

    Hot chicks at UBC! Move up there!

    • Nick says:

      I’d leave LA for some hot chicks up in UBC! NO DOUBT. LA is nice but if your crappy vfx jobs are moving elsewhere then be a creative/art director/supervisor those jobs are always available. Why are you fighting for the grunt work? When you can elevate…

  6. […] BC is currently in the middle of a film subsidy war with Quebec and Ontario. BC spent $437 million last year alone and even that wasn’t enough to stop a 13-year film employment low. […]

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