01/23/2013 11:27 EST | Updated 03/25/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. Film Industry Rally Draws Thousands


Thousands of film industry professionals packed into a warehouse at a North Vancouver studio Tuesday night as part of a growing movement to save B.C.’s film industry.

“I’m here because we need as much assistance and unity as we can get in this province right now,” Susan Butler-Gray told CBC News.

“Our people are unemployed, we have really low employment, and we have an incredibly creative work force that needs to actually just pull together so we can be heard.”

Film workers gathered at North Shore Studios continued to demand higher tax credits for the industry, which are currently set at 33 per cent of labour costs. Other provinces, like Ontario and Quebec, offer a 25 per cent tax credit on all production costs and that competition is hurting the B.C. industry, film industry professionals say.

“We understand the economics of it; we understand what Premier Clark is trying to do. She’s trying to balance the budget. We respect that,” said Cheryl Nex of Entertainment Partners.

“Our challenge is that what we offer to foreign producers is just not enough right now and we’re really challenged by the competition in other jurisdictions and if we’re going to save this industry, and if we’re going to survive and flourish, unfortunately we need more help.”

New provincial ministry

The key message at the rally was to get organized as a single voting block ahead of the May provincial election and lobby government to create a new provincial ministry to deal with the creative sector.

“We’ve had no home to go to for years,” said producer Warren Carr.

“Who are we falling under right now? We’re under heritage at one time, we’re under economic development — we bounce around. With that alone comes mis- and disinformation or lack of information on how it works for us.”

B.C. Opposition Leader Adrian Dix says demanding a ministry for the creative sector is a good idea.

"I'm an advocate of that direction."

Dix is flying to Los Angeles on Wednesday to advocate on behalf of B.C.'s beleaguered film sector.

“I'm going down to Los Angeles to provide support for the industry there, to advocate for the industry there, to say that people in B.C. strongly ... believe the jobs have a long-term future here,” he said.

“We've got the best crews, we have the best people working in the industry, the best locations and I think the government in B.C. that missed the film industry in its jobs plan hasn't done enough [to help].”

But Premier Christy Clark insists the $285-million annual film tax credit is already generous and says the higher rates in other provinces are not sustainable.

She also says stronger ties to India — including a new Bollywood awards show to be held in Vancouver in April — could translate into more local film jobs in the future.

Share your thoughts in our live chat

B.C. Almanac is hosting a live chat today on B.C.'s film industry. We want to hear from you.

- How much government support should the B.C. film industry expect?

- Should this industry have its own ministry within the provincial government?

- What can be done to return the film industry to its former glory?

Wayne Bennett will be our guest today. He is a film producer and organizer of the #savebcfilm social media campaign. The discussion will be moderated by B.C. Almanac story producer Jeremy Allingham.

The chat runs from noon until 1 p.m. PT.

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