#SaveBCFilm supporters have been circulating a Vancouver Sun op/ed article by BC film worker Daryl Makortoff. He writes that the program in BC is not a subsidy program paid for by taxpayers. In fact he was so sure of that he came on my blog yesterday to argue that the number I got from BC Film’s own website was incorrect.
That drew the attention of frequent commenter Adrian Mcdonald. He’s the Director of Research at the LA film office and an expert on film subsidies. Adrian offered to contact the BC Film office to verify if Mr. Makortoff’s article was correct as he proclaimed. Today BC Film responded to inform Adrian that Mr. Makortoff was wrong and the numbers on my site are correct. You can view the email here:
The writer of this article is incorrect. Tax credits are not based on taxes paid/withheld by individuals or corporations; they are based on total BC labour expenditures. Your example noted below is correct.
Thankfully Mr. Makortoff has admitted he is incorrect after the email was revealed. As of this writing there has been no indication by Mr. Makortoff or #SaveBCFilm if they intend to retract the Sun article. #SaveBCFilm quickly asked a supporter to pull a video she created that similarly argued the same incorrect info in my last post.
Why are so many #SaveBCFilm supporters so reluctant to admit the program in BC is a subsidy?
After all, just yesterday BC Culture Minister described the program as such:
Bennett said the province has no plans to increase the $285 million in funding it provides in tax credits related to film production.
“While it’s a great industry and I definitely want to keep the industry thriving in B.C., basically what the mayor is calling for is for all provincial taxpayers…to throw more money in to subsidize an industry that’s essentially based in-not completely, we make movies all over the province-but it’s essentially a Vancouver-based industry.”
Today, the Vancouver Sun posted an op/ed by Professor Rhys Kesselman of the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University. Not only does he call the program a subsidy, he issues a brutal and truthful take down of how ineffective and expensive the program is:
The incentives used by governments can take the form of cash payments or reduced taxes through credits. In either case they are equivalent to subsidies that favour the chosen industry, and the “refundable” nature of B.C.s film tax credits mean they are made as cash payments to firms with low or nil tax liabilities.
#SaveBCFilm sort of has to play poker with it’s position. If they reveal their cards that show the program is a massive taxpayer subsidy, they lose support in asking for more money on top of what they already receive. So they resort to calling the program a “tax incentive” or “tax credit” as if to imply that the money paid to the US studios is just a reduction of taxes and you the taxpayer lose nothing. The truth is the taxpayers are losing millions and the more the truth comes to the surface, the more they lose.
Why Is VFX Soldier Fighting This Issue?
At one point Mr. Makortoff asked why this VFX blog has concerted such an effort against the subsidies in BC. My response is worth re-posting:
I have a huge vested interest in this. Many of my colleagues and friends around the world have lost their jobs, their homes, and have had to leave their families because of these subsidies. Many of the companies we work for have either had to move or go out of business because of these subsidies.
As you have learned today, they have artificialized the price of visual effects work and create artificial markets. This hurts workers, this hurts unions, this hurts companies, and only help the bottom line of rich US studios. I’ve devoted the last 3 years of my life to putting a stop to it.