Canada victim of own success

Country has trouble attracting prod'ns

MONTREAL — Canada was one of the first countries to aggressively introduce tax-credit programs to woo foreign filmmakers, but in recent years the Great White North has had more trouble attracting productions now that almost every country on the planet seems to have a lucrative tax-credit setup.

Matters weren’t helped at the start of this year when the country’s main actors union, ACTRA, went on strike for several weeks, putting a serious damper on Hollywood’s filming plans north of the border.

The big changes in the Canadian incentives scene date to late 2004, when the three main production centers — Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec — all introduced major increases in tax credits for foreign filmmakers.

In Ontario, the tax credit on eligible labor expenses in that province was upped from 11% to 18% in December 2004. Around the same time, British Columbia increased its tax credit on money spent on salaries in that West Coast province to 18%, and Quebec upped its credit to 20% on labor expenses.

The tax credit is the favored way to entice foreign filmers to Canada. But the prairie province of Alberta actually gives out a direct grant of between 14% and 23% of the entire budget, which works out to the equivalent of between 23% and 42% of labor costs on a production.

Virtually every foreign filmmaker who shoots in Canada will access the provincial credits and combine that with the Canadian tax credits. Those federal credits amount to 16% of salaries, which in turn could comprise 8% of the overall budget.

Recent U.S. films that have shot in Canada and tapped these incentives include “300,” “Blades of Glory,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “Hairspray,” “Resurrecting the Champ,” “September Dawn,” “Night at the Museum,” “Shooter,” “Are We Done Yet?” and “Snakes on a Plane.”

  • Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office
    Contact: Robert Soucy, director
    Tel.: (888) 433-2200
    Web: pch.gc.ca/cavco
  • Quebec Film and Television Council
    Contact: Hans Fraikin, film commissioner
    Email: hans@qftc.ca
    Web: qftc.ca

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