McGuinty talks up film/TV industry during VFX studio visit

The premier stopped by Toronto's Mr. X to trumpet the advantages of film tax credits, after Saskatchewan last month cancelled its own.

It’s music to the ears of Canadian indie producers left shell-shocked by recent government cuts.

Premier Dalton McGuinty sang the praises of Ontario’s film tax credit regime and media production industry as he visited Toronto’s Mr. X visual productions studio Wednesday.

His message: a provincial film and television industry that last year contributed $1.26 billion to Ontario’s economy is worth preserving.

“We’re proud of our film and TV industry,” he said in a statement.

“It attracts young people and investment, and provides good jobs,” he added

McGuinty’s support for the Ontario industry was in stark contrast to cost-conscious politicians elsewhere slashing support for film and TV production, especially in Saskatchewan, which will axe its film tax credit, the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit, in July.

And indie producers are still reeling from reduced investment from CBC/Radio Canada, the National Film Board of Canada and Telefilm Canada, after the federal government cut support to those agencies by 10% over three years.

For his part, McGuinty reiterated support for Ontario’s film tax credit, which he argues allows the local industry to compete and thrive in an economy challenged by a strong Canadian dollar, aggressive competition and global economic uncertainty.

Ontario’s film tax credit alone, administered by the OMDC, has poured around $17 million into 134 domestic Ontario movie projects since 2005.

McGuinty’s fulsome praise led Dennis Berardi, president and VFX supervisor at Mr. X, to underline how his company has gained from tax credit support.

“Today we compete internationally and win projects in the face of fierce competition. We employ over 150 people and have invested over $2 million in our studio infrastructure,”  Berardi said.

Ontario’s film and TV industry currently employs 30,000 full-time workers, with every $1 million spent creating 23 new jobs.

OMDC statistics point to rebounding film and TV production, cementing the province’s status as North America’s third largest production hub, behind only New York and Los Angeles.

With files from Etan Vlessing