Canadian Premier Explains Why Film Subsidies Are A Losing Strategy

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall explained last year why he wanted to scale down film subsidies (yes, he called them subsidies). The province announced the eventual end of the program.

Soldier On.

 

31 Responses to Canadian Premier Explains Why Film Subsidies Are A Losing Strategy

  1. Pi says:

    Premier Brad Wall is a good man. If only all politicians were this smart and honest.

  2. A Voice says:

    This is the type of leadership we need in our government.

  3. Paulo says:

    thanks for this

  4. wb says:

    I doubt the Quebec prime minister care about this. With Framestore and MPC coming here, proves that we the taxpayer, we have a long way ahead to pay this insane thing.
    Madame Marois is inconsistent in her action – these days she is trying to push the bill14, witch will limit the use of english language in Quebec, and the other hand, she is forcing the taxpayer to sustain the foreign companies in this subsidies war. Witch are English speaking companies.
    Totally crazy….

  5. scholar says:

    Nip it in the bud.

  6. Pier Auto says:

    It only makes sense for Premier Wall to do this. According to The Directors Guild of Canada Saskatchewan Dist. Coun. since 2007 there has been 12 features & 8 series shot in the province, most in the largest city Regina which has a total population of 202,340. Unless you’re doing a western, Saskatchewan isn’t a producers #1 destination. it has the appeal of any mid west state-nothing but flat land. Using Premier Wall’s decision as ame in your fight does you no good. But then ignorance is bliss!

    • Pi says:

      @Pier Auto
      Are you a producer for one of the Big 6 Hollywood studios? If so, I can understand how you still believe that subsidies are a good idea!
      “The record from other states is clear. If the subsidy goes away, the movie industry goes away.”
      Every independent study has shown that film subsidies only benefit the Big 6, and are a significant net loss for the state or provinces that hands out taxpayer dollars to the Hollywood studios.
      But if you are a Hollywood producer, then surely I can understand how you feel that “ignorance is bliss”! Good for you!

      • Pier Auto says:

        Thank you! Like you said; “If the subsidy goes away, the movie industry goes away”.

        Then none of us will have jobs;]

      • Pi says:

        @Pier Auto
        Pier Auto wrote: “Then none of us will have jobs;]”
        Rather, ending subsidies will create an even and fair playing field.
        You won’t have to pack your bags, and tell your kids that you’ll be back to see them over the holidays, every time a star-struck politician in the next country/state/province wants to be buddy buddy with a Hollywood producer and give them lots of “free” taxpayer money.

      • Pier Auto says:

        I’m not saying it’s right and it’s unfortunate but filmed entertainment has little to do with creative and is all about the dollar, politics and hurt ego’s. I’m not a Hollywood big shot, I’m a little Vancouver ‘independent’ producer who struggled for years finding financing & distribution for our television series that now, thanx to those tax credits, is in pre production. Those Tax Credits, not subsidies, have allowed us to make a living in the business we love and provide employee in an industry with zero job security. Canada, with a population less than California, can not sustain an indigenous film industry and must relies, mainly, on the U.S. for sales, distribution, broadcast of Canadian produced material. There for surely you can appreciate how the idea of eliminating all film tax credits hits a sour note up here. I’m at a loss for any other suggestion how we, as Canadian producers, could continue in the business other wise.

      • Jen says:

        @Pier Auto – Canada, with a population less than California, can not sustain an indigenous film industry and must relies, mainly, on the U.S. for sales, distribution, broadcast of Canadian produced material.

        I have no problem with Canadian taxpayer money subsidizing Canadian film/TV efforts.

        I do wonder why Canadian taxpayer money subsidizes American film/TV efforts.

      • Pi says:

        @Pier Auto
        There is another way. Listen carefully to Premier Brad Wall’s suggestion about tax incentives for businesses that have roots in his province, rather than hand outs to Hollywood.

      • tazzman says:

        Pier Auto were talking about corporate welfare for Hollywood Studios who don’t need it, not your little mom and pop. Are you paying any attention?

      • Pier Auto says:

        the rebated go to the Canadian Prod company not the US Prod. company. No US company is handed money. As for why we “Dont make a better TV show” so funding isnt as diff.?. Remarks like that are ignorant.

      • vfxmafia says:

        To Pier Auto:
        “I’m a little Vancouver ‘independent’ producer who struggled for years finding financing & distribution for our television series that now, thanx to those tax credits, is in pre production. Those Tax Credits, not subsidies, have allowed us to make a living in the business we love and provide employee in an industry with zero job security”

        Why dont you simply make a better TV show….so you dont struggle for financing.???? rather than stealing tax money from your agriculture industry and your retired old people. (im quoting Brad Wall on that)

        As an LA VFX worker Im asked to work longer hours, expand my skills set at no expense other than my own, cut my pay, never make a mistake, never get paid for sick days, never see my family, work on holidays, and probably not retire….and now may have to do it another country….

        I ask hand outs from no one……just an equal opportunity against every other hard working VFX artist out there

        If the Canadian market cant support a film industry….you have to ask youself…….Why would a farmer plant seeds in the sand not soil? And then ask his fellow countryman to pay for his mistakes?

        Must be nice to make a living off the backs of other people? And then you make snide comments about ignorance and bliss…..i apologize if im being harsh and am missing something…….but please correct me if i am mistaken…

      • meinvan says:

        @vfx_mafia
        “As an LA VFX worker Im asked to work longer hours, expand my skills set at no expense other than my own, cut my pay, never make a mistake, never get paid for sick days, never see my family, work on holidays, and probably not retire….and now may have to do it another country….”

        well, sorry but that is your own fault. negotiate a better contract. and secondly this statement has nothing todo with the subsidies game, except maybe the moving part. (and that would only apply if you absolutly have to work in film industry)
        Even then i wouldnt be so sure, as i still believe that if you add up all the jobs in london and canada, its still way less than in the US.
        Since no one in LA is subsidized its fair to say “in LA your on a level playing field”, but I assume that the other players are just a little better.

        “If the Canadian market cant support a film industry….you have to ask youself…….Why would a farmer plant seeds in the sand not soil? And then ask his fellow countryman to pay for his mistakes?”

        seriuously??!? please take a look at this paper, and then tell me that canadians being subsidized in canada is a bad thing, even though they will never be able to have a film industry comparable to USA.
        (im NOT talking about hollywood studios…but home grown companies, or even the fx houses setting up shop)

        This paper shows the real evil of subsidies, affecting not just a handfull of people, but whole countries, i might even say that these really have global consequences.

        http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

        from your post, i would say, get out of this industry…..or learn to negotiate. because you clearly pulled the short straw and are blaming others for it.

      • tazzman says:

        Pier, stop trying to turn this into an argument of “oh the subsidies just go to pay for our little Canadien production company”. That’s not what it does. So stop trying to make it sound like it’s not going to big hollywood studios.

        All you’re doing is perpetuating the lie.

      • Jen says:

        @Pier Auto – …the rebated [sic] go to the Canadian Prod company not the US Prod. company. No US company is handed money.

        If only what you wrote was true.

        This year Sony Imageworks asked its Los Angeles artists to relocate to Vancouver so that Canada will pay for a portion of its artists’ salaries. Zoic, Digital Domain and Pixar also have Vancouver branches, using Canadian funding and non-Canadian artists to work on American projects.

        I see how American studios benefit from Canada giving free money to American studios, but I do not see how Canadians benefit.

    • Pier,

      Refundable film tax credits are paid out as cash. That cash subsidizes around 20% of budget spend. Why people keep denying this is a subsidy is beyond me.

    • vfxmafia says:

      To meinvan:

      1. I dont believe in any subsidies……from ANY country. As far as I know California doesnt have much in film subsidies which is why so many California VFX companies are going under.

      California Governor Jerry Brown knows this. In a recent interview with NPR he denounced film subsidies(6:00 mark):

      http://download.publicradio.org/podcast/marketplace/morning_report/2013/01/16/marketplace_morning_report_podcast_20130116_64.mp3?_kip_ipx=385810214-1361950580

      “The other states give lavish subsides to get people to make movies and we do that to a degree but were not going to have a race to the bottom where the state is supposed to pay for every private sector job that we want to attract. That is a losing strategy that I hope other states would get off.”

      gov. Jerry Brown….

      2. Your following quote Meinvan:

      “well, sorry but that is your own fault. negotiate a better contract. and secondly this statement has nothing todo with the subsidies game, except maybe the moving part. (and that would only apply if you absolutly have to work in film industry)
      Even then i wouldnt be so sure, as i still believe that if you add up all the jobs in london and canada, its still way less than in the US. Since no one in LA is subsidized its fair to say “in LA your on a level playing field”, but I assume that the other players are just a little better.”

      You assume wrong…and you are clearly not informed..

      1. How can companies that are getting funded by other governments be a level playing field?
      2. How can i negotiate a better contract with a US company that is going bankrupt because of unfair competion from corporate welfare from another country?
      3. I do work in the film industry…..and subsidies are driving Los Angels VFX companies out of business because countries are miss-using their tax payer’s money.
      4. How is it a level playing field?
      5. That paper your linked has NOTHING TO DO WITH FILM COMPANIES or FILM subsidies….its about how Giant American companies are not paying American taxes through tax loop holes. Yes Exxon has tax breaks because it has Cayman Island loopholes…..

      What the f*ck does it have to do with the big 6 film studios taking money from Canada? What does that have to do with California VFX companies going bankrupt because of foreign government funded competition?

      6. How come Candian companies cant run a VFX business without subsidies?….AND what happens when the big 6 Studios are offered more money from another country and they leave Canada like they left Los Angeles????? What happens when your subsidies stop?

      7. Do you read the reports of how Canadian subsidies do nothing to help the Canadian economy and just make the American Big 6 studios rich?

      http://www.daverand.com/subsidies/

      8. You REALLY need to read the rest of the articles in this blog…if you want to be taken seriously…

      9. Lastly you clearly don’t understand what film VFX subsidies are. I suggest you educate yourself what they are and what damage they are doing to the market….

      Best clip on where the money is going….(starts at the 11 minute mark) ….KCRW Los Angeles

      http://www.kcrw.com/media-player/mediaPlayer2.html?type=audio&id=tb130225vfx_industry_in_trou

  7. wb says:

    “I have no problem with Canadian taxpayer money subsidizing Canadian film/TV efforts.

    I do wonder why Canadian taxpayer money subsidizes American film/TV efforts.”

    same question for me?
    Recently McGill University doped from the 15th place to the 34, just because his research founding was cut.

  8. foxly007 says:

    Brad Wall makes a poignant argument and I think he has his country’s economical best interests at heart. If only all involved nations would wake up and think of the damage caused.

  9. I always spent my half an hour to read this webpage’s articles or reviews everyday along with a mug of coffee.

  10. aidenvfx says:

    Funny thing the government after cancelling the tax credit tried to show it was the right move had 2 reports created both came out saying the tax credit was a good thing so they buried the reports. Unlike other areas of Canada the majority of the projects in SK were domestic projects with above the line workers being from SK. Then a few indie films also got shot but that in truth is not a bad thing. There were no major blockbusters ever shot in SK.

    Make no mistake in the case of SK it was a political decision not one based on business.

    http://www.thestarphoenix.com/technology/reports+commissioned+after+credit/8161634/story.html

    • I read all mentioned reports, three in total. And all of them, including the Chamber of Commerce report (very pro film) show the program paid out more in subsidies than it got back in new tax revenue. It’s not whether the film incentive was “good” or “bad”. The question for a cash-strapped government is does the ROI positive or negative for the taxpayers. All reports confirm the ROI was negative. Hence, Wall killed the program.

  11. Pier Auto says:

    It was the right move for SK to get ride of the provinces Film Tax Credits since nothing is shot there. From 2007 to 2013 there have been 12 productions shot in Saskatchewan and all but two were Canadian independent pictures. Saskatchewan can’t be used as an example.

    • Pier,

      Please stop the discredited argument that the film “tax credits” are not subsidies. When virtually 100% of “tax credits” issued each year are given as cash handouts to the production companies that do not pay or owe corporate income taxes in BC.

      How about this: if the refundable film tax credits are replaced with normal non-refundable tax credits that most people and businesses get, we will stop calling them a subsidy.

    • Aj says:

      Forgive me for potentially resparking a debate, but I just felt like this presentation entitled “The State of the VFX Industry” by Scott Ross and Scott Squires really clears up some misconceptions about subsidies and film tax credits. Thought it might be of interest.

  12. Jasmine says:

    He is a great speaker more or less.

  13. […] Two years ago Saskatchewan announced it would end it’s film subsidy programs for similar reasons. […]

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