The lack of film tax credit in Saskatchewan is driving industry members out of the province, according to the director of a feature length film shooting in Regina.
“The problem that we face is the fact that you have to fly in a lot of the talent, because there is not a lot here anymore,” said ‘Donkeyhead’ director Agam Darshi. “A lot of people who take this job seriously, whether they are in-front or behind the camera, have gone to other places, like Toronto.”
The film tax credit was pulled in 2012. ‘Donkeyhead’ is accessing grants through Creative Saskatchewan, but only $2M is available for all applicants in feature film and TV production each year.
“There’s a cap to it, so there’s only so many projects that the province can support for film and TV production in the province,” ‘Donkeyhead’ producer Kelly Balon said.
Balon said the grants are better for cash flow, but the tax credit is more sustainable.
“In many ways the tax credit was better because it was a bankable part of our financing and there was no cap to it,” Balon said.
According to the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport, Creative Saskatchewan invested in 36 feature films and 56 television projects from 2013 to March of 2020. In 2019-20, it approved $1.96M dollars in grants for 11 projects. Each year a maximum of $2M is available for all applicants in Feature Film and TV Production. The ministry said every single dollar invested in a film or TV production in Saskatchewan triggers about three dollars of direct spending.
Balon said the production is accessing the B.C. tax credit and is also supported by the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada and several others.
Darshi said a lot of the Saskatchewan based crew members on ‘Donkeyhead’ have expressed how nice it is to work on a project in their home province, and she hopes for the return of the tax credit.
“That’s important, it shouldn’t be that family is in one place and a job is somewhere else. If you can get them both in the same town, why not?” Darshi said. “We would just become a hub like it once was. We’d start filming here, there would be just more people to choose from, there would be more industry.”