Canadians unfazed by runaway prod’n protests

More biz expected to head north

VANCOUVER — Canuck reaction to Sunday’s Hollywood protest march against runaway production was swift and defiant.

“We’re doing well because we have our movie act together,” said Ian Waddell, the minister of small business, tourism and culture in the British Columbia government who is responsible for the B.C. Film Commission. “We are cooperating with the unions and management, we are cost competitive, we have good locations and we have all that going for us.

“I don’t think they’ve got that anymore in Hollywood itself,” Waddell said.

Clips from the march have been playing nearly nonstop on local news broadcasts.

Bottom-line economics

“This is not a labor issue, it’s about economics, the bottom line,” Warren Carr, a Vancouver-based member of both the Directors Guild of Canada and the American Directors Guild, told Daily Variety.

Carr said the booming production scene in Canada would disappear if costs rise here. “We could rapidly move ourselves to Hollywood extinction.”

Carr, who worked on “Romeo Must Die,” a Warner feature that completed principal photography here last month, said another problem facing Hollywood is that “it’s getting shot out.”

“By comparison, Vancouver has a huge variety of geography within half an hour of downtown, a big advantage over any other city in North America.”

In Calgary, where revenue from film and television production by the end of last month had already exceeded the record set in 1996, the Hollywood demonstration aimed largely against western Canada came as no surprise.

“It’s obvious we’re doing a lot of new business in Calgary and southern Alberta,” Brenda Basham of the Calgary Film Office told Daily Variety.

“Shanghai Noon,” a Jackie Chan feature produced by East West Pictures, is in production at CFB Studio Centre, a fast-growing, 200-acre, 40-building complex that is the largest production site in Canada.

Alberta, the oil-rich province that up to now has been a minor player in Canadian film, television and commercial production, has no sales tax and is feverishly developing one-stop permitting processes and other incentives to attract work north. Production is expected to rise substantially again next year.

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