Producers push for extension of Nova Scotia tax credit

Nova Scotia film and TV producers are now in the bargaining phase to salvage what they can from a key production incentive, including an extension through the end of 2015.
Halifax image from NS Tourism

After expressing shock and anger that their industry stands to be devastated by provincial film tax credit changes, Nova Scotia film and TV producers are now in the bargaining phase to salvage what they can from a key production incentive.

“We’re working with the government to really help them understand the implications of this,” Screen Nova Scotia chairman Marc Almon told Playback Daily on Friday.

Almon and his colleagues have been lobbying hard since finance minister Diane Whalen last week announced the province’s film tax credit will go from 100% refundable to just 25% refundable.

The tax credit changes also lead to the closure of Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia, a provincial government department that supported various creative endeavors in the province and was a first point of contact for producers looking to shoot in the province.

“It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye and close the doors of Film & Creative Industries Nova Scotia. We wish you all the very best in the next chapter, and will be watching for your future successes along the way,” read a post on the department’s Facebook page. A spokesperson from the provincial government confirmed that all tax credit-related inquires should now be posed to Nova Scotia Business Inc., the province’s private-sector lead business development agency.

As in 2012, when Saskatchewan replaced its refundable tax credit with a non-refundable model, Nova Scotia producers are trying to get an extension for the current tax credit to the end of 2015, rather than July 1.

That would leave a host of current projects in the works to shoot in province under the current tax credit. That includes the fifth season of Mr. D, according to producer Michael Volpe, and Nineteenseventysomething, a teenage road movie by Nova Scotian writer Daniel MacIvor, to be directed by Bruce McDonald.

“As this will be one of the last movies to qualify for the full Nova Scotia tax credit under the current regime, we ask: will this be the last movie made in Nova Scotia?” the film’s producers said on Friday in a statement after Nova Scotia slashed its film tax credit to a 75% non-refundable model.

The Nova Scotia budget unveiled last week states productions that start principal photography before July 1, 2015 will qualify for funding under the current film tax credit.

A refundable tax credit pays a single-purpose company a rebate for any local labour hired for a film and TV production.

Nova Scotia’s upcoming production incentive has a non-refundable tax that only offsets the taxes still owed by a production.

Local producers consider the non-refundable component of the tax credit ineffective in getting a film or TV project off the ground.

Screen Nova Scotia, representing producers, film unions and suppliers, is hopeful they can amend the provincial budget before it passes and threatens the future of the local film and TV industry.

DHX Media spokesman Shaun Smith said the indie producer is giving no more media interviews after David Regan, EVP in charge of corporate development for DHX Media, told CBC News in Halifax that This Hour Has 22 Minutes will be relocated to another province if the tax credit changes go ahead.

Entertainment One was not available for comment on the future of Haven, which shoots in Nova Scotia.

Other recent productions include The Trailer Park Boys, which shoots in Truro.

Updated as of April 14 to include most recent information regarding where film tax credit inquires should be directed to. This story previously stated inquires should go to Nova Scotia’s Department of Finance and Treasury Board. The most recent information indicated inquires should be directed to Nova Scotia Business Inc.