Provinces offer sweet rebates

Canada’s provinces have spent the past year adjusting their tax incentives to entice more film production to head north, and with the Canadian dollar losing some of its steam compared with the U.S. greenback (the dollar is around its lowest level in three years), the shift could prove especially favorable when taking into account a better exchange rate and the higher tax returns.

ONTARIO

WHY: The Ontario Production Services tax credit rebates 25% of eligible labor in Ontario for films budgeted above $1 million, or TV series above $200,000 for every 30 minutes. Producers must have permanent offices in Ontario and own the copyright for the film or contract directly with the copyright holder. The Ontario Film & Television credit — exclusively for Canadian-controlled corporations with permanent offices in Ontario — will rebate up to 35% of eligible labor costs to the producer. An additional regional bonus of 10% is given to productions that shoot outside the Toronto area. Producers can top off either credit with a computer animation and special effects rebate of 20%. An additional 25% to 30% digital media tax credit exists for interactive digital media products created in the province.

BONUS: Ontario’s tax credit system is especially transparent, says Ontario Media Development spokeswoman Sharon Wilson. Producers can easily calculate and be guaranteed a refund on the money they spend in the province, and there are no caps or restrictions on where filmmakers have to shoot within the province.

HOT SPOT: Filmport, the country’s biggest film studio, opened in August and covers more than 250,000 square feet just outside of Toronto. Included on the property are seven soundstages, six production offices and better than an acre of open space.

SHOT THERE: “Amelia,” “Max Payne”

LINK: Film Ontario: filmontario.ca

QUEBEC

WHY: Quebec has built its name as both a unique location spot and as an alternative to Ontario. The film and television tax credit rebates up to 25% of labor costs to films with budgets of more than C$1 million, with no budget limits. An additional 20% can be added for either computer animation and digital effects or greenscreen facility utilization. Producers must have established offices in the province that deal mainly in film and TV productions.

BONUS: Montreal has the lowest cost of doing business in North America when considering cities with a population of more than 1 million, says Quebec’s film commissioner Hans Fraikin.

SHOT THERE: “The Last Templar”

HOT SPOT: The former local headquarters for the national post office in Montreal is under development as a production warehouse and studio facility, and covers about 23.5 acres, including a 650,000-square-foot building.

LINKS:

Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit: pch.gc.ca/progs/acca/progs/ bcpac-cavco/progs/cisp-pstc_e.cfm

Quebec Shooting Guide: quebecshootingguide.co

BRITISH COLUMBIA

WHY: British Columbia has the crew capacity to staff 40 simultaneously shooting productions. Foreign producers can tap the Production Services Tax Credit, which offers a 25% rebate of qualifying labor costs as well as a 6% bonus for shooting outside the Vancouver area and another 6% for shooting in more distant locations. Domestic producers can access the Film Incentive B.C., which rebates up to 35% of labor, as well as another 12.5 % for shooting outside Vancouver and another 6% for shooting further outside the core area. Both foreign and domestic producers can earn another 15% by using local digital animation and vfx houses.

BONUS: Productions that shoot outside the province are still eligible for a digital and visual fx credit that covers more than 40% of labor costs if they use local post-production facilities.

SHOT THERE: “Night at the Museum 2″

HOT SPOT: Film production services giant Deluxe acquired the former post-production and visual effects units of Rainmaker Entertainment in January, and are working to beef up its operations.

LINKS:

B.C. Film: bcfilm.bc.ca

B.C. Film Commission: bcfilmcommission.com

MANITOBA

WHY: The Manitoba Film & Video Production tax credit has been increased to 65% of local labor, even for producers who aren’t Canadian. The rebate can be pushed another 10% through the Frequent Filming Bonus for returning producers, and another 5% for productions that involve a local Manitoba producer, co-producer or executive producer.

BONUS: First-time producers can still tap the 10% frequent filming bonus by working with a company that has “frequent filmer” status. The amount can be boosted with the 5% local producer credit if the frequent filmer is from the province.

HOT SPOT: Construction is under way on a 75-acre Western town that will include movable buildings. The area includes lagoons, a creek, bridge and forest, and is located in an area that qualifies for a 65% tax credit.

SHOT THERE: “Amreeka,” “Wild Cherry,” “High Life”

LINK: manitobafilm.com

ALBERTA

WHY: The Alberta Film Development credit returns between 25% and 42% of all eligible expenses, including post-production fees, set construction, food, accommodations and rentals.

BONUS: The only province in Canada with no provincial sales tax.

HOT SPOT: Province houses a 15,000-square-foot studio with wardrobe facilities and a production office.

SHOT THERE: “Fear Itself”

LINK: Alberta Film Commission: albertafilm.ca

Calgary Film Commission: calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com

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