Thursday April 17, 2014

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Lights. Camera. Tax relief. Changes demanded for B.C. film industry

VANCOUVER - British Columbia's New Democratic Party Leader Adrian Dix hopes to land a supporting role in saving the province's television and film industry.

Dix is in Los Angeles for two days of discussions with studios, producers and filmmakers to consider how to restore B.C. as a thriving production centre within North America.

But Premier Christy Clark said her government is already doing the job it needs to do to attract the industry.

Clark told reporters Wednesday her government has organized a trade initiative where B.C.'s film industry can meet with Indian film makers to talk about bringing more movie production to the province.

She announced earlier in the week that the government was paying $11 million to allow Vancouver to host The Times of India Film Awards in April.

The award show honours excellence in Hindi language film and is known as the Oscars of India.

"That's real work. It's not going down to the land of make believe. We're talking about real work here," Clark said.

On Tuesday night, thousands rallied at a studio in North Vancouver, demanding Clark's government overhaul B.C.'s tax incentive system for the film industry.

Industry supporters on the West Coast believe enticing tax rebates in other provinces are luring productions away.

Shawn Williamson, a spokesman for Vancouver-based Bright Light Pictures, said his company shifted production of a made-for-TV movie from the Lower Mainland to Winnipeg, because he says it is cheaper to shoot in Manitoba.

But Clark said citizens of B.C. are already heavy supporters of the industry.

"I have sat down with members of the film industry and talked to them about where we plan to go and what we plan to do.

"As I said, $285 million in tax credits from the citizens of this province is a generous amount of support in very tough economic times."

Clark repeated her statement that provinces such as Ontario are engaged in a "race to the bottom" when it comes to handing more subsidies to film and TV producers.

Television and film projects in British Columbia are credited for creating as many as 85,000 jobs. (The Canadian Press, CKNW)


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