Call for action follows B.C. stats

Tron: Legacy

B.C. film and TV production jumped more than $100 million in 2009 to $1.3 billion — with the majority of the spending in the service sector.

According to 2009 production figures released Thursday by B.C. Film, big-budget foreign shoots like The A-Team and Tron: Legacy substantially increased service spending in the province to $1.1 billion, from $841 million in 2008.

Meanwhile, indigenous activity in B.C. continued a downward spiral in 2009, decreasing a dramatic 40% to $217 million, from $365 million a year earlier.

In a statement, the B.C. producers branch of the CFTPA called on the provincial government to address the domestic decline by increasing the 35% labor-based tax credit and introducing an intellectual property development fund to trigger indigenous production.

‘Today’s figures represent a staggering downturn in B.C.-owned domestic production that will continue unless measures are undertaken to address this challenging situation,’ said branch chairman Rob Bromley.

The province recently increased the production tax credit for foreign shoots to 33%, but didn’t sweeten the 35% domestic labor rebate. Some B.C. producers say it makes more financial sense to move production to Ontario where they can access its wider 25% incentive.

Kevin Krueger, B.C.’s minister of tourism, culture and arts, admits the domestic industry is facing challenges but won’t consider leveling the playing field with the east.

‘We think Ontario has made a serious mistake and [the 25% credit] isn’t sustainable,’ the minister says.

‘I have met with domestic producers and they feel B.C. is doing everything we can reasonably be asked to do,’ he adds.

According to the B.C. Film figures, overall the province attracted bigger-budget shoots, but fewer of them in 2009. While total expenditures increased by $100 million, there was a decrease in the total number of projects shot, with 239 projects landing in the province compared to 260 in 2008.

‘To increase production by $100 million last year is remarkable considering the challenges the industry faced in 2009,’ Krueger points out, noting that the recession, rising loonie and preparations for the Olympic Games as factors that could have deterred activity.

‘So overall things are looking good,’ he says.

The majority of B.C.’s 2009 activity was in foreign feature film production, which increased nearly $200 million to $641 million in spending

Foreign TV series shoots — which included Caprica, Fringe and Stargate Universe — accounted for $373 million in spending during 2009.