Image by Todd Vaziri
1/28 Update: Mike Seymour of FXGuide reiterates the same 60% number. Doubt he would have posted that if I was lying like some of the commenters have accused me of.
In my last post many commenters were surprised by the fact that 60% (58.42% to be exact) of the salaries of BC resident VFX artists were paid by the government. Quickly after that post, commenters accused me a lying and all kinds of wacky outrage.
We’ve verified this before with the BC government after a BC worker who wrote an OP ed in the Vancouver Sun explaining how he understood how the film subsidies work. He was dead wrong.
Why the outrage?
Here’s what I don’t understand: There are many people in VFX who condone the current subsidy race. They believe more government money for the industry is good and without it, the industry in BC, NZ, etc would collapse. So why is there this outrage at the fact that it’s a 60% subsidy of a BC VFX worker’s salary?
Yes that’s high but it’s supposed to beat other locations that offer similar subsidies for VFX. The reason for the outrage is probably because they tacitly admit this is creating a huge artficial bubble in BC that will burst and BC taxpayers would be angry to learn the facts. Look, many VFX workers in BC are making around of $100,000. The idea that the BC taxpayer is paying almost $60,000 of that salary to US producers while there are budget problems and cuts in education and healthcare in BC reeks of improper priorities.
So this time I once again contacted the BC government to verify this info and once again, they agreed we are correct. I’ve attached an email confirming this below:
Secondly, we also contacted VFX producers to independently verify this. They all came back to agree that we are correct and they have been able to confirm and claim a 60% rebate on those qualifying salaries.
I also asked both the BC government and the producers in what situations would you not be able to claim that amount or something less. BC Finance Minister Mike De Jong has pointed out how costly the film subsidies are with $437M budgeted for 2013. Given that, I’ve been told that the BC government is auditing more productions to determine the exact number of qualified BC residents instead of relying on the facility to report it. Some BC workers are recent transplants and are not qualified to be an official resident until they file a tax return. Regardless, if you’re a legitimate BC resident, a US producer can claim a 60% rebate on your salary and let’s be clear, the goal is to push as many workers to move to BC and become a resident so producers can get a huge subsidy.
Some commenters may has also been confused thinking that 60% of all VFX production costs are paid by the BC government. I’ve made it clear this is only for VFX associated labor of BC residents. A producer estimates that of the total production costs, 65% generally tends to be the percentage of labor. That being said, you can see why Montreal is a better deal. They offer competitive labor subsidies and on top of that, are willing to pay 25% of non-labor production costs.