If Squamish wants movie productions knocking on its door, the community needs to join the battle for provincial tax credits for the industry, says a local stakeholder.
February is usually a busy month for films and TV pilots in B.C., Emmy Award-winning costume designer Glenne Campbell said. Last March, Squamish played host to two television pilots, totalling 37 days of shooting within the community. But this year, studio and municipal schedules are empty, the Squamish resident said.
“The phones are not ringing. Nobody’s calling,” Campbell said.
At the heart of the issue is B.C.’s inadequate incentives and Canada’s high dollar, she said. The provincial film tax credit is for 33 per cent of labour costs. Quebec and Ontario are snagging productions by granting a 25 per cent tax credit on all production costs.
“The company I worked with for 10 years plus, they moved to Ontario,” Campbell said.
Having lived in Squamish for 16 years, Campbell said she’s watched the decline of the forest industry and growth of the film industry. District of Squamish employees estimate productions pumped approximately $1.5 million into local businesses in 2012.
Squamish resident Boyd Godfrey’s set designing company Stagecraft is scraping by, he said.
“The fact that we don’t see it getting better any time soon is a little concerning,” he said.
Provincial officials need to act quickly if they want to keep the industry alive in B.C., whether that’s matching the eastern provinces’ tax credits or coming up with new incentives, Godfrey said. If the mega-hit vampire saga Twilight was not originally shot in Squamish, it may not have returned for its two last episodes, he said.
“The [movie industry] isn’t really a subsidized business,” Godfrey said. “It generates more business than it costs the government.”
B.C. Premier Christy Clark has indicated the province won’t add to B.C.’s film credits. Last week, Bill Bennett, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, indicated changes that could aid the industry may be in the cards.
An organization, Save B.C. Film, is leading a campaign to sway Clark. As of Monday, (Jan. 28), 28,311 people had signed a petition calling for the B.C. premier to change tax incentives.