Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Loses Film Industry Jobs as Ontario and Quebec Gobble Productions:insider

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Loses Film Industry Jobs as Ontario and Quebec Gobble Productions:insider

Article excerpt

Job numbers tank in film industry:insider

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VANCOUVER - Film crews are sitting idle and studio space is near-empty in British Columbia as higher tax rebates lure productions to competitors in Ontario and Quebec, says an industry insider who's lobbying for change.

Peter Leitch, president of North Shore Studios, said more people have gone without work in B.C.'s film and television industry in the last six months even as Premier Christy Clark has touted job creation in the western province.

"It's pretty devastating in terms of the number of people who are unemployed right now," Leitch said Wednesday.

"Part of it is seasonal, but certainly part of it is that our tax credits are not at the level playing field that they used to be historically."

An online petition has garnered thousands of signatures on a petition to save the B.C. film industry, and that's a sign of desperation from people without work, said Leitch, who is also chairman of the Motion Picture Production Association.

Even a temporary increase in tax credits would remedy the "devastating situation," he said.

"In terms of studio space availability, I've never seen this much studio space available in Vancouver in my 25 years, and that's a real barometer of employment," he said.

Meanwhile, Montreal and Toronto are continuing to build stages as business grows.

"This will be our worst quarter I can remember," Leitch said of his 23-year-old studio in the province that earned the moniker Hollywood North in its heyday during production of TV hits such as "Stargate," "X-Files" and "Smallville."

British Columbia offers the film industry a 33-per-cent tax rebate on labour costs, as compared to 25 per cent in credits on all costs involved in productions in Ontario and Quebec, Leitch said.

That represents only a 10 per cent savings in the end for made-in-B-C projects, he said. …

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