Local Filmmakers Left in the Dust
Recent Canadian indie hit "The Corporation" is an award-winning documentary about the psychopathology of the corporation.
It looks like Canada is facing the same issues as Hawaii with respect to local film projects getting funded and made. In a panel last week at the Vancouver International Film Festival on film financing in Canada, a banker, venture capitalist, tax accountant, private equity financier, and government official spoke about the lack of Canadian dollars being invested in Canadian films.
Despite the explosion of Canada as a production hub over the last decade thanks to aggressive tax incentives at the federal, provincial and local levels, Canada's own homegrown filmmakers are getting left in the dust. The reason, said the panel? Too few Canadian individuals and institutions prepared to invest in Canadian films (investors too risk-averse) and not enough decent or commercially viable Canadian projects and production companies worth investing in.
Earl Hong of Telefilm, the Canadian government television and film funding agency, said that the dollar amount of investment in Canadian films has remained stagnant while the film industry as a whole continues to grow. Only about 10% of the Canadian film industry account for servicing homegrown projects. Still, the panel maintained that the country's vibrant Hollywood scene helps to spur the continued existence of its indie filmmaking scene.
While it's hard for Canadian indie filmmakers to attract private sector financing, the Canadian government offers much to them in the way of financial support. The more "Canadian" a film, the more grants and tax credits available to it. These handouts, however, have been criticized for making local filmmakers too comfy trying to get tax credits and grants rather than going out to find funds among the private sector. According to one of the panelists, such fundraising, negotiation, and pitching skills, and management skills in general are very much lacking among the members of the local Canadian film industry, whose creative skills typically trump their business skills. This is another reason why investors are sheepish about funding local films.
But while some of the panelists criticized tax credits and grants, others said that they are necessary to help develop and grow the nascent talent at home. After all, if you've never made a film before, there's very little hope of you being able to raise enough private equity to make one. Unless, of course, you have a rich, heirless, eccentric uncle who wants to dabble in film.
>> An Industry Looking For A Break [iofilm, 10/5/05]
>> A Public Forum on Film Financing in Canada [Vancouver Int'l Film Fest]
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