This afternoon, government officials announced changes to their proposals for film industry support. The technical briefing for reporters was not for attribution, meaning I can’t quote any of the government officials present.
There are lots of moving balls in this, and I’m sure other reporters and film industry representatives will add much-needed detail. This is my first past the post analysis. I’m sorry the numbers are confusing.
The short of it is that for government budgeting purposes, the dollar amounts have not changed at all. Film industry reps disagree with the language being used, but from the government’s perspective, $24 million will be spent this year (through tax credits) and $1o million next year, with the following details:
• The film tax credit is being scrapped entirely, and will be replaced with a “Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund,” which I’ll call FAT PIF. The fund will be capped at $10 million.
• In practical terms, that means the $6 million that was calculated for the film tax credit (the 25% of the 50% credit for wages) will be rolled into $4 million of the $6 million announced Creative Economy Fund. The newly created $10 million FAT PIF will be administered by Nova Scotia Business Inc.
• The Creative Economy fund was to cover film, television, book publication and other arts, so the $4 million taken from that fund for the creation of FAT PIF includes only the film and television part. It’s unclear what’s going to happen to the other $2 million.
• FAT PIF will not cover animation. There are on-going discussions about animation productions, and some decision will be reached in the next week or two.
• FAT PIF is a budgeted fund, and not a tax credit, so funding from it will be public record. Uncharacteristically, “transparency” is important to the government.
• Grants from FAT PIF will be capped at “$5 million or less” per production.
I spoke with John Wesley Chisholm of Arcadia Entertainment after the briefing. He said FAT PIF “allows us to get back to work and start discussions.” As he sees it, the reduced tax credit announced with the budget two weeks ago was not “bankable” — that is, no bank would lend money based on the reduced amounts, while grants from the fund are bankable, so that allows him to continue work he has in the pipeline.
Still, said Chisholm, he is dissatisfied with the announcement. “The Department of Finance has the ideological position that the film industry does not contribute positively to the economy,” he said.
I told Chisholm that even though he disagrees with the language and philosophy being used, it looked to me that the total government “spend” on the film industry is being reduced from $24 million this year to $10 million next.
“Next year’s budget is next year’s budget,” he said. “They can’t say what next year’s budget will be today.”