The executive director of Screen Nova Scotia says the province’s announcement of $23 million to boost Nova Scotia’s industry is “historic.”
“This is a historic and pivotal day for us. It’s been almost seven years since the film tax credit was eliminated, and since that time the industry has worked hard to recover and rebuild despite what happened in 2015,” Laura Mackenzie said during Tuesday morning’s announcement.
“We are seeing record production numbers. Last year, we doubled our production volume, contributing $180 million investment into this province and putting 2,000 Nova Scotians to work.”
The funding announced by Premier Tim Houston on Tuesday includes $15 million for a new fund that will benefit local film and television productions and another $8 million toward a soundstage.
The new Nova Scotia Content Creator Fund will be administered by Screen Nova Scotia and will provide $3 million per year over five years to eligible Nova Scotia-led productions.
Mike Volpe, local producer and chairperson of Screen Nova Scotia’s board of directors, said the fund will help the province’s current crop of filmmakers as well as a new, diverse generation.
Volpe said when the tax credit was cancelled in 2015, so too was the Nova Scotia Film and Television Equity Program. He was thrilled to hear about the creation of the new fund.
“This fund is automatic, transparent, and lasting,” Volpe said during the announcement.
“And with it, new emerging talent, diverse, and underrepresented voices, as well as our seasoned filmmakers, will once again have the opportunity to tell our stories and compete in the exploding global content marketplace.”
Screen Nova Scotia will also lead development of the 50,000 square foot (4,645 metre) soundstage facility. That project has a $20 million price tag, with Screen Nova Scotia securing support for the remaining $12 million from other partners and private investors.
“Canada has become an increasingly attractive destination for production,” Mackenzie said. “With the development of a soundstage, we will be equipped to welcome our share of the tidal wave of production that has been coming across this country.”
Mackenzie described a soundstage as an “essential piece of infrastructure” for a successful production industry. She estimated the existence of such a facility could result in an additional $100 million in production volume each year.
In addition, she said a soundstage will extend the province’s production season from nine to 12 months and create reliable, year-over-year employment. This means crews won’t be forced to leave during the winter months to find work in Toronto or Vancouver.
“And as we enter into one of the most significant workforce transitions in history, a soundstage will be a major tool in assisting the industry in creating upwards of 500 highly skilled jobs in the next five years,” Mackenzie said.
“We hope that many Nova Scotians that were forced to leave in 2015 will find their way home, and hopefully this time for good.”
Mackenzie said the soundstage will also provide an accessible space where anyone can be hired to work and will help advance her organization’s goal to increase the number of marginalized and under-represented people in the industry.
Houston said he’s travelling to Los Angeles with Screen Nova Scotia representatives from March 12 to 16 to meet with decision-makers at HBO, Netflix, Sony, NBCUniversal, Disney, and others.
“In today’s environment, with the demand for entertainment at an all-time high, this is a perfect time for government to step up and show its support and commitment to growing the industry,” Houston said.
“Nova Scotia can be the go-to production hub in North America. I’m completely convinced of that. Many productions are already taking a closer look at what we have to offer in this province. Last year we saw demand take off and it’s the right time right now to push the envelope.”
In a media release, the province said the film industry contributed $180.8 million to the province’s economy in 2021-22, up from $78 million in 2019-20 and $91.6 million in 2020-21