BC Film Subsidies Top $437 Million

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 9.07.49 AM

Source available here

Dave Rand called in during a BC radio show discussing film subsidies. He’s posted a video with commentary on the issue:


Yesterday the BC government released it’s latest budget. On page 117 you can see how much the film subsidies cost just for 2012/2013: A whopping $437 Million!


Posted above is an updated chart on how much has been spent in BC on film subsidies over the years. It’s important to remember this doesn’t even include the federal amount taxpayers pay that is stacked on top of this! Meanwhile, BC is cutting higher education funding by $46 Million and increasing taxes by $327 Million. Health insurance premiums are also hiked.

Soldier On.


125 Responses to BC Film Subsidies Top $437 Million

  1. andrei gheorghiu says:

    as I said – it is bad for the whole country – not only for BC
    rest of Canada should learn from BC “experience”


  2. P-Fi says:

    I wonder how much of that 437 million is because of VFX work. This year in particular saw a huge upswing in VFX shops either opening or fully staffing their Vancouver offices.

  3. The Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Level playing field indeed.

  4. Andreas Jablonka says:

    thats a huge jump!

  5. Craig says:

    http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/beleaguered-domestic-film-sector-scores-small-wins-1.76671 Interesting that a BC producer mentions the lack of support for domestic productions in BC. Meanwhile on a pro subsidy blog someone accepted endorsement from Uwe Boll–who has benefited more from Canadian tax dollars than many Canadian-born filmmakers. In fact I understand he moved here.

  6. Studio_Spotter says:

    Im sure the studio execs very much appreciate the sacrifices BC folks are making to their children’s education.

  7. christian roberts says:

    no one have seems to share the same concerns in our own country. the same people blast Canada and yet we never comment in an outright bad way about Nola, New York and so on?? Just curiuos why.

    • Ashes says:

      Yup, we have. NY hasn’t been bashed too much yet because the subsidies have just really started. It will lose money and it’s just as wrong as what any other country is doing.

      The position of most people here is that subsidies are bad no matter which country is doing them.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Do me a favor: do a search on New Mexico on my blog and you will see I’ve spoken out about state side subsidies. Tha distinction is this is a VFX blog and BC is the hot spot right now because of the massive subsidies.

      When Imageworks was trying to get people to move to New Mexico I made the same warnings: the program would get expensive, another govt would offer more money, and soon the program would be reduced.

    • scathie says:

      Ask VFX Soldier to list those unsubsidized industries he’d like to see the film industry emulate.

      He’ll never do it because they don’t exist.

      The thing is that until Ontario ponied up investment dollars, BC was clobbering the competition at attracting film work. Now that Ontario and to a lesser degree Quebec are winning new business, the last thing VFX Soldier wants to see is production to move back to BC.

      He can talk about killing subsidies all he wants, but governments use taxes, regulation, spending or investment to promote or discourage industries all the time. That’s what governments do. It just happens that Canadian governments are wrestling his industry and winning.

      • Dave Rand says:

        How about a list of the Canadian based films visual effects films ( or any films ) funded by Canadian sources that we can subsidize down here in Los Angeles. You can try all the arguments you want on for size but the truth is you are naked when it comes to answering that question. You have taken tax payer money and purchased and industry and moved it to your country, mislabeled the whole thing as tax incentives when in fact it as noting to do with taxes other than taking your own taxpayer’s money and sending it to the Americans. Have the courage at least to admit this is exactly what is happening without a barrage of unrelated real subsidies designed either to promote a self sustaining industry or enable completion of home grown products or services. After you’ve failed creating the first list I’ve asked for, how about a list of the Canadian industries you’d feel comfortable with being moved (with their jobs) to the United States… I don’t expect you to complete that list either.

      • Dave Rand says:

        I await further deflective arguments that dance around these truths.

      • scathie says:

        “How about a list of the Canadian based films visual effects films ( or any films ) funded by Canadian sources that we can subsidize down here in Los Angeles”

        Subsidize anything you want. Write a letter to your representative or run for office and go subsidy crazy.

        “You have taken tax payer money and purchased and industry and moved it to your country”

        So? Jack Valenti and the MPAA, under direct support from Ronald Reagan, spent the better part of 30 years destroying the Canadian film industry. What did you do to stop that? Nothing?

        Fair enough, but don’t forget, you’re the one that gave us no other choice.

        “You have taken tax payer money and purchased and industry and moved it to your country”

        So? This happens ALL THE TIME. This is precisely what governments do.

        Why does China make electronics? Why does Bangladesh make apparel? Why is London an international banking hub? Why are over 60% of Fortune 500 companies incorporated in Delaware, of all places? It’s not coincidence.

        “Have the courage at least to admit this is exactly what is happening without a barrage of unrelated real subsidies designed either to promote a self sustaining industry or enable completion of home grown products or services.”

        I don’t think I ever did. I don’t think anyone ever has except you and a few other commenters on this blog have, either. What is a “self-sustaining” industry, anyway? The financial industry? The auto industry? Agriculture? Real estate? Education? Health care?

        Why do you have an aerospace industry? Why do you have a military-industrial complex? There are no market demands for tanks, drones or anything NASA does.

        “How about a list of the Canadian industries you’d feel comfortable with being moved (with their jobs) to the United States”

        I feel comfortable with any jobs and goods moving across borders. And so does Canada and the United States. That’s why NAFTA exists in the first place.

      • Craig says:

        Valenti and Reagan did not destroy the Canadian film industry. We didnt have one in the first place. The Canadian gov tried funding films in the 70s-80s–it started the career of Cronenberg and Reitman (both were criticized at home) but was stopped due to corruption. In the late 80s when a Canadian film George’s Island was not getting enough distribution a Canadian distributor replied “that’s because its no fucking good.” We dont make commercially viable films–and nowadays we would rather give tax money to subsidize Hollywood than promote at home. Want more proof that the government used to fund Canadian made films? They even funded a porn film: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2013/02/12/bc-tax-credit-vampire-adult-film.html

      • Dave Rand says:

        As I stated :

        “I await further deflective arguments that dance around these truths.”

        ..and I’m not dissapointed.

        thanks Cathie for helping me make that point….hey at least you did not call me “stupid” or “retarded” like your response the other day….we are making progress.

      • Time to act says:

        Here are the markets NASA and the military complex have created.


        Like Dave still waiting for that list of industries we can Tax-ploit from Canada.

      • Dave Rand says:

        Thought I’d toss this in down here almost 1,000 hits.


      • Scathie says:

        Time to act says:

        “Here are the markets NASA and the military complex have created.”

        Yes… created by TAX PAYER DOLLARS.

        You just defeated your own point.

        Interesting strategy, but I’ll take it.

      • Scathie says:

        Craig said

        “Valenti and Reagan did not destroy the Canadian film industry.”

        You better believe they did.


  8. Frankie says:


    Why is everyone up in arms? obviously it’s an important industry to BC.

    What business is it of anyones outside of BC as to where their government puts its money?

    If BC constituents didn’t agree, they’d vote against via the electoral process.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      because it artificially distorts the price of VFX?

      Because it institutionalizes displacement in the VFX industry?

      Because citizens didn’t vote for it?

      Because even the most ardent supporters don’t know how it works?

      Because corrupt politicians voted for it?

      Because US studios have systematically shown a pattern of coercing govts to give them taxpayer money and change fundamental laws in their favor?

      Need more?

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Because this easily applies to almost anything else in the global landscape since man took control of the planet.

        Adapt and get over it. For only those who do will survive.

      • The Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

        Are you moving to Montreal yet, Get Real? 🙂 Don’t unpack your bags too soon though. Will probably have to move again shortly afterwards.

      • Dave Rand says:

        and therein lies the rub….

      • shaner says:

        Get Real: Only those who adapt and become corporate sheep will survive.

        Thought I’d fix that for ya. 😉

      • alex lim says:

        It’s quite a humorous phenomenon that it’s okay when one person taken something from someone else, and then telling that person to “get over it/get used to it”. But when it comes time for that same person to feel the pain he’d inflicted on someone else earlier, he cried afoul worse than the original person he’d taken from.

      • Scott Ross says:

        Actually, Darwinism isn’t “survival of the fittest” it’s “survival of those that cooperate with each other”

      • Jen says:

        @Scott Ross – in truth, Darwinism is survival of the luckiest.

        Ask any triceratops.

  9. vfxguy says:

    It’s always heartwarming to see how much you care about the Canadian taxpayer, Soldier.

    • Dave Rand says:

      The weakest deflection I’ve seen yet. What we care about, like you, are our jobs. What we care about is a free market based on talent and branding, not one country buying jobs from another rather than creating their own market, making their own films rather than acting like parasites parading around flimsy arguments placed in their throats by the Americans. Have some pride for Christ sake.

    • Jen says:


      Ask not what your country can do for you.

      Ask what your country can do for Warner Bros.

      • Scott Ross says:

        Brilliant…. I wonder what President Obama would say to the studio outsourcers chasing the almighty dollar while putting hard working US citizens out of work?

      • Just Curious says:

        I haven’t seen anyone commenting on the tax breaks to movie producers that was shuffled in to the fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of the year. These sheisters are working every free money angle they can find and governments are bending over backwards to provide. It’s sickening. My taxes are being shoved into the pockets of the people who shipped my job to Canada.

      • Ymir says:

        Scott, he would probably thank them for their continued campaign support. 🙂

    • shaner says:

      Just another cog in the corporate wheel. You will be assimilated.

  10. urizen says:

    “If BC constituents didn’t agree, they’d vote against via the electoral process.”

    That could be true if BC constituents were not grossly misinformed on the matter thanks in part to pro-subsidy BC’ers, who for reasons known only to themselves, habitually misrepresent the financial facts of the matter, (lie).

    “What business is it of anyones outside of BC as to where their government puts its money?

    It is the proper business of all citizens outside of BC because the direct investment by BC taxpayers in Hollywood’s prada and porsche elite is a gross and predatory violation of world trade law.

    And, law aside, because these kinds of negative return investments by BC on behalf of its duped taxpayers destroy lives around the world, (including, ironically, those of BC constituents themselves).

    All for the extra profit of a handful of American corporations,
    already drunk in bathtubs of cash.

    There are other considerations of course, but these will do to start.

    • etc.... says:

      “If BC constituents didn’t agree, they’d vote against via the electoral process.”

      That could be true if BC constituents were not grossly misinformed on the matter thanks in part to pro-subsidy BC’ers, who for reasons known only to themselves, habitually misrepresent the financial facts of the matter, (lie).

      —— well obviously the information is available if a voter looks hard enough. They’re not living in the dark ages.

      • Jen says:

        Most Americans don’t know their CAFO-grown meat and corn-syrup soda pop is government subsidized. Fewer Americans know of the harm that American corn subsidies caused to Mexican farmers.

        I’m skeptical that the average BC voter knows much about film subsidies other than what the “Save BC Film” movement says.

  11. urizen says:

    “Because this easily applies to almost anything else in the global landscape since man took control of the planet.”

    I must have missed the holiday. Believe it or not, the date’s not on any of my calendars. Was it last Tuesday, or was it some weekend back in November?

    When we took control of the planet, I mean.

    Will collection agencies and lawyers be calling us all up at work now?

    “Adapt and get over it.”

    Social Darwinism much?

    Back to ‘nature’ for the immaculate. Oy vey-

    Still with that junk after a more than a century?

  12. Frankie says:

    “Because it institutionalizes displacement in the VFX industry?”

    Sorry, but it’s a global industry now. There is no “displacement”

    • VFX_Boom says:

      Frankie, all you have to do is look around at every major city with major VFX houses to see that a majority of the artists are NOT from that area to KNOW displacement is far and wide. It’s the SAME artists preforming the SAME tasks, just in a different Countries, Provinces, States, etc. Please wake up and take a look around.

      If it were truly ‘Global’ there would be no need for subsidies, kickbacks, etc. And the workers would already be in those locations, and not have to be heavily recruited from other areas far away.

      We need to stop lying to ourselves about this idea of a ‘Global’ industry.

      • Really? says:

        I don’t know. I see lots of Canadians working in Canada, Australians in Australia, New Zealanders in New Zealand, Malaysians in Malaysia….

      • mmmtacos says:

        I don’t know. I am working in the UK currently and I work with lots of non-english workers from all over the UK and the world including Canada and the USA. I myself, am not originally from the UK.

        I was offered a job in Canada last year in BC with other coworkers from the UK. They and I were not Canadian. I have and know a great number of Americans/Europeans now working in BC who use to work in L.A. and San. Fran and had to move because that is where the jobs were going. I was told that by an HR person from a major visual effects studios that I would get more money in Canada than I did currently if I moved and be more secure in my job.

        A lot of UK houses opening in Montreal and Vancouver are staffing those houses with their UK workers who are from the EU and are not Canadian. Indeed, I a non-canadian, have been offered multiple jobs in Canada.

        What we are doing is causing trained workers to have to work and move their families for jobs in foreign countries. We ARE an international community, it matters to all of us, everywhere. Instead of dividing, we should band together. Hopefully we can all learn to appreciate the unity we could have before it’s too late and make a difference for all workers everywhere.

  13. Scott Ross says:

    A Piece of the Pi?

    I had a vision tonite. The perfect storm had occurred. The VFX industry in turmoil whilst blockbuster movies are making a fortune. LIFE OF PI racks up $577 million whilst R&H files for bankruptcy. Chances are Bill Westenhofer and team will most likely walk away with a statue on Sunday, though they have no job or paycheck on Monday. So… given this outrageous situation, what can be done?

    Here’s where the dream part came…. 500 or more VFX artists demonstrated only blocks away from the Dolby (Kodak) theater on Sunday, Oscar day. Waving signs that say… ” I WANT A PIECE OF THE PI TOO”.

    • andrei gheorghiu says:

      Hm…500 or more it might be part of your dream.
      It will be amazing, but when I read some comments on this blog, and I know the attitude of the people in industry today ( don’t say anything , you might be blacklisted) – I don’t think this is possible.
      But who knows?…

    • Dave Rand says:

      We may be beaten up, kept in a weakened state for years, robbed by other countries bribes and corrupt politics, but we do care, and that caring has grown tremendously.

      I think this is a great idea.

      Maybe soldier can post a spot to meet Saturday, a place to make signs Sunday, and a place to park and meet Sunday night. Let’s take this conversation private and come up with times and places and then post here and share with the press by Friday.

      • alex lim says:

        New soldier rising every month. 500 might not actually be far from reality. It only takes a few strong to make a difference.

    • The Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

      What exactly would they be protesting? Honest question. Wondering how broad or specific it would be.

    • Whether it’s 5, 50, or 500 people I’ll be there! But I think I can bring folks from our VFX drinking group too.

    • VFX_Boom says:

      As great as a picket near the Academy Awards would be, it would not go over very well without a defined message/goal. IF we were Unionized, and were there to demand a better contract, that would be useful for raising awareness. But, because the message is so loose, we might not accomplish as much as we’d hope to.

      And whose behalf would the folks protesting be there for? Rhythm and Hues? The VES? The individual artists?

      It’s almost like the situation with the ‘Occupy’ movement. The ideas and feelings were there, but, without a clear goal they started to fade away over time. If we could somehow organize in the next year, this could be feasible for next year.

      Scott, I like where you’re coming from!!! Keep it coming.

      • Scott Ross says:

        The message is simple: VFX artists create incredible images that translates into huge box office or MONEY… BUT, VFX companies are going out of business.

        Stop Subsidies
        Stop exporting our industry

        Fair business practices.
        Fair Labor rules

        Start supporting the men and women that create the magic in movies.

      • Just Curious says:

        This idea was posited in the comments of the last post to this blog by several other people… Perhaps it seemed like a dream when you read it there. If I was in LA, I would attend by I’m am not.

    • Twain says:

      Many of us from DD as of tomorrow are free after the end of Oblivion and Iron Man 3….after months of working weekends and holidays, we don’t have a job on Monday. Let’s do this.

    • vfxmafia says:

      Scott, It would be awesome if all the VFX Oscar Nominees took the stage together….in solidarity…..and made a speech…..on live TV

      We need to shove this in the face of the actors……

    • Randolf says:

      If you want a piece of the pie, why did you go into VFX? Equity is on the production side. Work there, that’s where you get gross profits.

  14. vfxIntlTraveller says:

    If you want the Canadians to stop paying “bribes” then you need to do two things: 1/ act to make your own film industry more responsible, a bit less venal, less willing/able to take the “bribes” and 2/ stop making Canada so rich that it has all this money to spend on subsidies/tax breaks – they’ve only got this cash in the first place because you’re gobbling up all their lovely oil and gas!

    • Dave Rand says:

      So it’s my fault my car got stolen because I did not buy a good enough alarm? I never looked at it that way…..and probably because it’s a bullshit argument.

      • vfxIntlTraveller says:

        Are you really saying that the US studios are a just a car in the street waiting to be stolen? Is there really no one at the wheel? That’s as pathetic a defence as the US “war on drugs” where it’s nothing to do with Americans snorting 40 billion dollars of cocaine each year – it’s all the fault of those terrifying Colombian hill farmers: burn their fields!

      • Dave Rand says:

        No it means you think it’s ok to steal my car because it’s steal-able and you just happen to have the right tools on you. Plain and simple, nothing at all to do with the war on drugs, or the price of peas in Beijing.

    • Time to act says:

      Looks like we are trying to stop the bribes. That would of the biggest parts of this site. You get the correct information out there for the masses. Then you move. Read through the site more. You will see everything that is being set up, here in the US to try and stop them for everything. It does take both sides.

      And really stop taking you oil? That is at least a good example of what Canada makes for export. We are also working on that also, the only problem is its hard to create a new vehicle that works better then a gas engined one. But good news the US company Tesla is actually doing an amazing job, so once prices come down, and distanced rise, we can stop supporting Canada by buying its only export?

      Might want to think about that.

      Buying off the film industry doesn’t make u money. How do you not see that?

    • Ymir says:

      You’ve touched on something that I proposed some time back:

      ‘1/ act to make your own film industry more responsible, a bit less venal, less willing/able to take the “bribes”’ . . .

      It occurred to me that live action union crews get paid an increasing rate the farther they work from the Los Angeles area they work. I believe there’s an actual address or location this is calculated from. With all the traveling vfx artists are now required to do to keep employed, I thought something similar should be emulated. Since there is no vfx union, every artist is basically a union of one. But why shouldn’t they fight for what unions get? Even though there’s no central office, if enough artists agree to a plan, it becomes something the facilities and studios will have to contend with.

      It’s something I’ve started referring to as “the subsidy rate”. It works from wherever any artist lives and works. I will use the USA as that’s where I live and it will make it easier to explain.

      Every artist has their standard rate that they quote when being offered a position. Let’s call that 1.0X. Now, if you get offered a job in a highly subsidized location, such as BC, the artist’s rate should be higher, say 1.5X. If the subsidized location has so much money to toss around, why shouldn’t the artist get a piece of the action? Some subsidized locations, such as BC, have a large contingent of foreign workers because there just aren’t enough local talent to fill all spots, let alone senior level spots. The companies in these locations have to fill these spots. Talented artists need to understand their actual worth to these companies frantically trying to get artists in place to finish shows. So artists need to stand firm, and demand the higher subsidy rate if the company expects them to travel to that location for the company’s benefit to complete the show.

      Now, you’re going to say, “but the effects facility doesn’t get the subsidy, the studio does” and you’re right. But if the facility isn’t getting the talent to finish the show, and the talent they get are demanding their share of the subsidy pie, then the facility is going to have to grow a backbone, stand up, pull up their britches, turn around and face the studios and say “we need some of that subsidy cash to get your movie made, if you want it made here.”

      This would also benefit the companies that have home locations and satellite branches, such as DD, SPI, ILM, MPC, etc. It gives them the option to hire talent locally cheaper at the artist’s regular 1.0X rate, or pay the 1.5X subsidy rate and hassle with getting more money from the studios. But it means artists are going to have to stand tough and demand it in order to get the facilities to stand tough and demand it. And if the studios aren’t making money off the subsidies, then there’s no reason for them to be chasing them and just get the work done where the best talent in available for the project.

      It’s not a magic bullet or perfect solution, but one I’ll toss out there. If we don’t like what subsidies are doing to our industry, we need to find ways to negate the attractiveness of those subsidies.

    • Twain says:

      As sad as it is to say, the Canadians didn’t earn their way into this industry. They bought their way in. They work on US films and pay US studios with their tax dollars to remain in the industry for what, bragging rights? Canadians, you don’t have work because the region holds talent, you have work because you are cheap. One day soon, someone else will be cheaper and you’ll relate to all us uppity non-Canadian artists who have known all along what “race to the bottom” truly means.

      • Really? says:

        didn’t EARN their way into this industry….? please. what an offensive thing to say. What is obvious is that this is an American run site, to protect American jobs. And bugger anyone else! the industry is changing, it’s all about where the work can be done cheaper

      • Just Curious says:

        Perhaps you take offense to it because he only said Canadians. The same can be said for the states offering subsidies as well.

        “It’s all about where the work can be done cheaper” you say? The problem is that the work is not being done cheaper. The studios are merely getting kick backs so they are requiring the work to be done there. How is it cheaper for Sony to lease a studio in the most expensive city in North America large enough to hold hundreds of people and then pay the relocation costs for many of the artists to get there than it would be to just keep the office in Culver City humming along?!

        And lower bids are a requirement but if the work was being done cheaper, companies would not be folding left and right under the pressure.

      • Twain says:

        @Really, THAT is what offends you? Your job in the entertainment industry resting in the hands of the Canadian tax payers doesn’t offend you? Those tax dollars going directly into US Film Studios pockets doesn’t offend you? Knowing you’re one generous Montreal, NZ, or Louisiana subsidy away from losing your “industry” doesn’t offend you? I’m not saying there aren’t talented artists in Vancouver, but the sense of entitlement coming from subsidy haven BC is astounding. To be quite honest, folks like Save BC Film sound like spoiled children, spinning in circles slamming pots together while demanding more money from their gov’t. No, BC didn’t earn it and they don’t deserve it. No one does.

    • Jen says:

      Thank you for that video. The ending reminds me of Dave Sim’s plea to another industry’s artists in his Pro-Con ’93 speech.

    • Alex says:

      Your list of “The Fallen” has a lot of companies in it whose bancruptcy can’t be blamed on subsidies. Centropolis (which you spelled wrong, btw) is a good example. And the Orphanage (who, being the main vendor on Uwe Boll’s Dungeon Siege actually benefitted a lot from canadian money).

      • Dave Rand says:

        I blame the fallen on two concepts, you missed the other one..watch again see if you can pick up on it. I’d be curious if you can. Thanks for the feed back and the spell check though, although none of this defeats the main arguments in any way whatsoever..( I think I spelled that right)

      • vfxIntlTraveller says:

        No point in arguing – with this guy it’s always someone else’s fault

      • Alex says:

        So nr. 1 is the subsidies and nr.2 is the fixed price way of bidding that is the norm in the industry, correct?
        That still is no explanation for some of the studios on your list – like centropolis.

      • Alex says:

        And @vfxIntlTraveller, no need for name calling – Dave is actually making some good points!

      • Dave Rand says:

        That’s ok Alex, thanks for the defense. I rarely respond to anonymous hecklers as their defeat lies underneath the heckle. As for Centropolis fx I was there, right up to the day it closed…and yes, and most definitely, it was bidding that ruined them, putting them on that slippery slope where the new show was paying for the old. This did not occur until Dean and Rolland sold it (in it’s profitable state) to the German co Das Werks ( I may have spelled that wrong to ) and it went from a cost plus model to a bidding model and failed a short time later.

      • Alex says:

        Well, my take on Centropolis was that after they got bought by Das Werk (which did really great back then and would buy international VFX houses left and right – reminds you of another german facility? 🙂 and their german mothership got in finacial trouble after the dot.com bubble burst back in 2001, Warner got cold feet and pulled the Matrix Sequels, thus dooming their fate.
        No per-cost bidding would have changed any of that.

        I hear what you are saying though, and I am glad that you point out there are other reasons – and in my opinion much more significant ones – than subsidies alone.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        @Dave: Das Werk 🙂

      • Scott Ross says:

        Bad management will generally tank a company… Bad market conditions with no profit margins will always tank a company… even companies with good management.

    • Excellent! says:

      Great message dave! Loves the descriptions, very very well said. They are naked, yes indeed. Time they started competing for us… yes…

  15. Charlie, Vancouver says:

    I think you can expect some hostility from a variety of Canadians when your findings quote a controversial 2005 budget report and a seemingly out of touch MLA who is in charge of “Community, Sport and Cultural Development” while also representing his constituents in provincial parliament, then upload a video of an ill-informed actress to make your point that we are “bribing” business owners to invest here. To quote John Kenneth Galbraith “Emphirical evidence and the requisite amount of righteous indignation are available to anyone with the money to pay for them”. Local film producer’s are working with the government to have a provincial department dedicated to the business of the BC arts, such as the one in Ontario, and to lock down what the benefits actually are to investing in this plan.

    What is clear to me is that there is no clarity on what the ultimate economic benefits are to BC and Canadian citizens for their investment in bringing the global film and television business into Canada. I am pushing for that to change.

    I have only just discovered, and perused, Adrian McDonald’s very thorough and compelling book “Down The Rabbit Hole”. Clearly BC is not alone in this idea of investing in, for better or for worse, International English Film and Television production, currently dominated by Hollywood. I do not see how anyone is entitled to the production of English film and television. As you mentioned, the ever expanding 6 US based international studios seem to control the market, including our own: “As The Globe and Mail noted – the United Kingdom and Australia and other English-language countries annually only buy a “smattering” of US television programming. We fill up 65% of our Prime time schedule with US owned and created TV programming. In terms of our movie screens, our filmmakers, including people like Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg, have difficulty accessing Canadian movie screens. Only 2% of movie screens in Canada are available for Canadian features. This is quite amazing when you remember that English is not the first language of choice for close to 30% of Canadians” (Elizabeth McDonald; Harvard Club NY Speech; June 3 2002)

    While there is a solid group of BC based producers and filmmakers producing great work, a healthy local industry and infrastructure has depended on the investment from global English film and television production, primarily Hollywood. Evidently this establishment has convinced global governments that tax credits/labor rebates/bribes are essential to financing their projects. It seems to be take it or leave it. I feel the initial interest in producing film and TV in BC was the favorable currency exchange rate and time zone, which was later buttressed with tax credits as it was deemed beneficial to the local economy and also trained a generation of filmmakers while building a significant infrastructure As tax credits have become more favorable in other Canadian provinces, Bulgaria, Australia, and the Southern United states, the local skilled workforce is not clear on what should be done. When the market maker’s were asked what to do, the financiers/studios simply suggested more “tax breaks”. This is seemingly a sad race to the bottom, down the rabbit hole, but It is up to the citizens and government to understand if there is any benefit to this at all; this includes BC’s DAVE tax credit that I recognize has become a painful game changer for now but as other lower labor rate nations build their infrastructures, I am assuming much of this work will be moving to there instead, as mentioned in this scary article I am sure you are aware of: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/las-visual-effects-community-fears-421201

    How would you like Canadians who wish to remain employed but are at the mercy of the US market makers, deal with international commercial subsidies/labor rebates?

    NOTE: Canada currently has a $901 million trade deficit, America is our largest partner accounting for %54 of all imports; According to a 2007 study commissioned by the Canadian Embassy in the United States, Canada–U.S. trade supported 7.1 million U.S. jobs with approx $316.5 Billion of imported US goods and services annually. Are all of these goods and services produced “fairly” in the US without any US government “bribes” that would not allow Canadian workers to compete? No! We are the mouse next to the elephant. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/us/government-incentives.html#CA

    • Scott Ross says:

      If there are incentives, BC should use them to benefit BC NOT Warner Brothers. Give the $$$ to the companies that do the work NOT the companies that will run to wherever the best subsidy is. Give the $$$ to VFX facilities. They build infrastructure. They employ people. They will stay in BC as they have a vested interest in doing so.

  16. Charlie, Vancouver says:

    Excuse the typos, In an effort to stay employed, I have been packing my canoe all night for a long paddle to Bulgaria, Australia, or Toronto or where ever this months best subsidies are now- regards Chuck

  17. Scott Ross says:

    This business is complex. There are many sides to the issues, but some things are plain and simple. VFX facilities are not compensated fairly. Tax credits and Subsidies create havoc and a false economy.

  18. mmmm says:

    I am not a fan of tax credits or what ever you want to label them.

    What I really hate is the group here that continually claim it is there industry and why others do not do not finance there own productions. The fact is without international money you would not have a film industry as very few films make a profit based on US alone box office results. You also have to thank a lot of NON american money for keeping the studios alive. Fox, Sony, Lionsgate all benefit from large sums on non american finance.

    The studios have a monopoly on the distribution of films in the global market and everyone can make films but the studios control the cinemas who show these films. Perhaps limiting the number of US films as you call them that can be shown by every country will destroy your industry as you see it. Now thats not want anyone wants but thats the story with radios stations in countries like the UK where a large percentage of airtime has to be filled with UK based music.

    Studios know that if they are to make any profit they have to rely on the international box office and so are now buying up all the non American works and turning them into films that sell aboard. Heck why would a Canadian writer sell his book,script or story idea to anyone but the highest bidder who can get the story out there. Who are these? the studios BASED in LA. Everyone keeps talking Pi well the fact is it has not even mad a profit based off the the Canadian/US box office in fact it is far from it with the marketing costs not known.

    We have now heard that more studios are not financing as many films in the up coming slates and relying on others to finance usually with foreign capital and then they are distributing. If a film was based on american stories with an american director then yep thats american but what about say Avatar. Written, directed and produced by a Canadian who went and found a studio to back him although most of the money that made that film came from back end deals and the director himself using his wealth to help finance that film.

    I agree ditch subsidies if you wish but expect a huge downturn in the numbers of films but on a level playing field . Remember the only way the industry can survive is with global box office with everyone able to help create them and not just la people.

    I expect many rants back but remember these are now intnational companies who just enjoy the location for executives.

    • Jen says:

      You write a lot of words, but you do not explain why American studios need foreign government funding for American films. Foreign box office, sure, but not foreign government funds.

      • Really? says:

        much of a muchness really Jen.

      • Jen says:

        @Really? – really, Really? You honestly don’t see the difference between foreign box office and foreign government funding?

        I do. I can see British Columbians choosing whether or not to buy a ticket for AVENGERS 2. I don’t see British Columbians allowing their own infrastructure and public services to fall into disrepair in order to prop up Disney. Not for long, anyway.

  19. […] Scott Ross has a message for us: […]

  20. Charlie, Vancouver says:

    California credit rating: A-, BC Credit Rating: AAA / You want to know an industry heavily subsidized by the US that affects Canadian employment? Let’s start with Agriculture Pal: The primary competition to our local farmers comes from the United States. That country is laying out about $20 billion yearly in direct agricultural subsidies. In Canada, it is zero. On top of the up front American subsidies are many, many billions more in hidden subsidies. For instance, the Army Corps of engineers provides waterworks to supply cheap water to American farmers. There is nothing like that in Canada. When Canada negotiated the Columbia River Treaties, British Columbia got screwed. Our Columbia River water was delivered to farmers in eastern Washington and Oregon by the Corps so that they could set up a whole new apple growing industry with it. Those American farmers were paying $20 an acre-foot for that subsidized water whereas Canadian farmers drawing water out of the very same streams had to pay $160 an acre-foot. Not only did our farmers have to pay many times the cost for the same water, but the US apples ripened a couple of weeks before our apples and creamed off the gravy in our market. The result was an extremely heavy hit to Okanagan Apple growers. They did not recover and tore out most of their orchards. The land went out of food production into vineyards to produce a luxury product not noted for its nutritional value. No one seems to care…”http://islandfarmersalliance.org/?p=153

    • VFX Soldier says:

      I fully support Canadian challenges against farm subsidies in the US. Anyone interested in starting a kickstarter to fund a challenge? I think we should solve the farm subsidy issue before we address the vfx subsidy issue. It seems we can’t move forward until we stop farm subsidies.

  21. […] – Last year, the province of British Columbia spent $437 Million to subsidize film production. […]

  22. Charlie, Vancouver says:

    Actor-director Ben Affleck and producer George Clooney’s film, Argo, received $6.21 million in tax credits from the California Film Commission. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones, hauled in $3.5 million in tax-free film credits. Silver Linings Playbook bagged a cool $5.6 million.


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