B.C. film production in steep decline
President of Vancouver Film Studios Pete Mitchell in an empty studio on the lot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday March 25, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Faced with new figures showing a significant decrease in film industry paycheques this year, B.C.’s two major political parties are short on details of a solution.
Payroll figures for physical production leaked to 24 hours show a 35% decrease in the total sum of film paycheques sent out for the first 10 weeks of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012. The payroll figures represent a majority of the entire industry.
The figures for the same period last year showed a $57-million payout and only $36 million for 2013.
A promised political solution to the decline was not coming quickly enough Monday for Vancouver Film Studios president Pete Mitchell, as he stood in a brand new, empty 21,000-square-foot film stage that isn’t booked until July.
“We don’t have every stage full all the time, but certain times of the year — like right now, pilot season – you’d expect them to be full,” Mitchell said. “The people who work here can’t just work for five months and expect to make a living.”
Mitchell wants the same tax credits as other regions, some as much as 25% across the board. Mitchell alleges B.C.’s 33% credits applied only to labour costs aren’t enough of an incentive.
B.C. Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett said the province is paying attention.
“Government will continue to monitor the situation in B.C.’s film and TV industry as 2013 unfolds and is prepared to look at offering increased assistance to the industry if numbers continue to decline,” said Bennett in a statement.
NDP arts critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said his party has been consulting with film companies, but wouldn’t go into detail.
“What we’re doing now is we’re just putting together the last stage of what we think would be a good strategy for the industry,” said Chandra Herbert.