Message From the Chair: Planning for the BC Screen Production Sector’s Long Term Success

May 3, 2016
Posted by: Leslie Wootton

BC’s screen production industry has seen its fair share of issues to manage in 2016 as we near the halfway mark for the year — yet we have every reason to be optimistic about our long range prospects; industry stakeholders themselves have never been more engaged — in industry, government and community relations. There is less guess work and a lot of collaboration, helping us to stay on top of industry risks and manage our competitive value proposition with an eye on the future.

For example — theBC Government’s screen production industry tax credit revisions announced May 2nd, are the result of extensive consultation with an industry ‘task force’ that included representation across BC studios, labour, BC producers, our visual effects/post production sector and our Los Angeles clients. While decreased tax incentives present a potential challenge to our competitive position, we were fortunate to be part of a dialogue that explored in detail the implications of any revisions and the corresponding transition plan. The consultation took place through clear lines of communication between Government, industry and clients over several weeks, with the intent to avoid surprise changes and minimize negative impacts on our business. The long range affect of the revised tax policy remains to be seen, but the implementation strategy has helped to ensure that informed decisions are being made and communicated.

We’ve had alternatively challenging ground to navigate this year, with location production being on an all time high in BC, particularly in Metro Vancouver — necessitating a rally of all stakeholders to manage stretched industry resources and community based locations. Municipal Film Liaisons across Metro Vancouver have been especially taxed in their respective jurisdictions, with high demands for permits, issues around location use & overuse, and the added pressures of industry vs. community expectations on location. With a substantial number of crew that are new to the production industry, it all adds up to challenging circumstances if stakeholders are not working together on the best possible outcomes. Community Affairs meetings have been frequently convened this year to collaboratively manage the issues at hand, as well as develop the key communications vehicles that can help to alleviate some of the pressures. With Creative BC’s (acting) Community Engagement Manager Marnie Orr now taking the lead on this file, we expect to work closely with Marnie alongside Metro Vancouver Film Liaisons, and participate in communications and industry initiatives that will ensure we are protecting our valuable community location resources together.

Whether it’s tax policy or community engagement, we are managing the issues of a busy screen production sector with an exciting future in this Province. As an industry, we recognize that our value proposition isn’t simply ‘customer’ focused; it is equally BC focused, and it’s at the heart of the story of BC’s growing creative economy. The value proposition behind BC’s creative economy, present and future, is not well known across the Province and this is something we are working on changing via the ‘BC Creates’ communications initiative. MPPIA screen partners have been collaborating cross sector with music, digital media and publishing sectors, and Creative BC to provide some insight into the $4 billion GDP and 82,000 jobs captured across these sectors.

The Government of BC has become an important partner in this story, proclaiming “Creative Industries Week in BC” in April for two years running. Creative Industries Week has provided the opportunity to profile the industry stories that demonstrate the value of BC’s creative sectors and their importance as an economic driver for the Province . MPPIA and its creative sector counterparts gathered in Victoria on April 25 & 26 to celebrate “BC Creates Award Winning Talent”. Screen production award winners and nominees gathered to share their accomplishments at evening events and in the Legislature. Performances from two of BC’s Juno award winning musical talents — the established Dan Mangan and emerging Dear Rouge — spoke for themselves.

Also in April, we celebrated National Canadian Film Day (April 20th) with a screening of Really Real Films’ and Two 4 the Money Media’s If I Had Wings at the Capilano University Bosa Centre for Digital Film & Animation. This was a special cast & crew encore screening of a locally made film that has resonated with kids, parents and educators alike. The film was championed to the BC Education Ministry by North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite, who announced the film’s forthcoming free availability in BC schools at the April 20th event– thanks to Jane’s efforts, the filmmakers’ and the support of their distributor Shaw Media.

There is much to look forward to in 2016, including Creative BC’s recently unveiled strategic plan roll out, with new resources for support across the creative sectors, including Film Commission services. I look forward to many more productive collaborations across screen and creative industries interests this year. Together we are managing our challenges and successes in equal measure — even where unique interests may be at odds with another — because ultimately we all have an interest in our collective, long term success.

Peter Leitch, Chair

Motion Picture Production Industry Assn. of BC