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New Brunswick drops film tax credit, effectively killing NB film industry 

Tory budget ends NB film benefits, but that could mean good news for Nova Scotia

click to enlarge nb_med.jpg
Aimed at cutting New Brunswick’s debt, the provincial budget handed down by finance minister Blaine Higgs earlier this week ends the NB film tax credit, which amounts to approximately $3 million a year.

The absence of the credit---40 percent of wages and salaries paid to New Brunswick personnel working on a film or television production shot within the province, and an additional “regional” bonus of 10 percent of eligible labour costs became available for approved productions that take in rural areas outside Moncton, Fredericton or Saint John---means that the office of NB Film will likely shut down, staying on just long enough to service current projects and stuff in the pipeline, according to Haliwood Insider’s source.

Greg Hemmings of Hemmings House Pictures, based in New Brunswick, helped produce Winter Wave Riders, Eva Madden-Hagen’s episode of the CBCs Land & Sea, which The Coast wrote about last year. He’s on the board of the New Brunswick Producer’s Association AKA Media NB, which met on Tuesday to discuss strategy.

“It’s scary to see how many people are saying ‘We give up, we’ll move our companies out,’” says Hemmings. “It’s going to be a complete exodus of quality, talented people.”

Hemmings House Pictures does 90 percent commercial and corporate work, so that won’t be affected by the tax changes, but what is affected is his work in television. “We rely heavily on the tax credits and equity programs since broadcasters aren’t paying what it takes to produce a good television show, so it’s impossible to produce good television in New Brunswick anymore.”

As a result, Hemmings is meeting with Film Nova Scotia to talk about productions he’ll be making here. “A lot of New Brunswick producers will need to find a home. a lot of them will probably do work in Quebec as the bulk of our producers are French, but the rest will probably do work in Nova Scotia. We’ve been working out of Nova Scotia the past three years, but we’ve always been headquartered out of New Brunswick, so haven’t tapped the Nova Scotia programs. Now the question is, will Nova Scotia welcome a few talented producers from New Brunswick?”

The answer seems to be a big “yes.” Film Nova Scotia’s Ann MacKenzie says that she’s hoping NB film industry personnel in New Brunswick move here. “We have so much production lined up this summer, it would be really great to have them.” MacKenzie points out that with the recent changes to the Nova Scotia tax credit in terms of residency requirements, it’s even more convenient for people to come here and work immediately. “If they moved here and stayed here, they’d be eligible right away, which would be perfect for us. In the past people had to wait a year to qualify.”

MacKenzie is quick to point out it’s never pleasant when something like this happens, but we shouldn’t fear a similar situation for Nova Scotia tax credit, “because we have so much production,” while New Brunswick was responsible for maybe “five or six percent” of Atlantic Canada’s film output.

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