A Los Angeles-based filmmaker is threatening to relocate at least one of two feature films he planned to shoot in Victoria this summer unless the provincial government’s regional tax incentives improve.
Corey Large, the Victoria-born actor and producer who made the films Poker Night and Kid Cannabis here last year, said Victoria can no longer rely solely on its scenic beauty and professional crews.
“If they don’t do this, there will be nothing shooting here,” said Large, lamenting his hometown’s exclusion from B.C. regions that are eligible for a six per cent “distant location” tax credit.
The province introduced the credit in 2008 to encourage filmmaking outside the Lower Mainland, but not in Greater Victoria.
Large said the six per cent credit would offset travel and accommodation expenses on Island shoots.
Losing more films would be another slap in the face to an industry already hurting from the province’s refusal to match incentives of 25 per cent on total production spending in Ontario and Quebec, Large said. Producers are eligible for 33 per cent in B.C. solely on labour costs.
The setback sparked the online Save B.C. Film campaign that includes a town hall meeting at North Shore Studios tonight.
Large brought Ron Perlman, John C. McGinley, Titus Welliver, Giancarlo Esposito and other familiar faces here last year for two films with combined budgets of $6 million.
He hoped to bring more for two thrillers — 3 A.M. and The Ninth Passenger.
“The only reason I shoot here is because I’m from here,” said the former St. Michaels University School student. “I could easily shoot somewhere else. I can shoot a $10-million picture and get $5 million back in Michigan, Louisiana or even Hong Kong.”
Ted Bauman is a prolific B.C. producer whose many projects in the capital include the sci-fi series Impact.
“If there was that extra six per cent, it would make it more financially viable,” said Bauman.
“The fact is it’s cheaper to shoot in Langley because of its proximity [to crews in Vancouver]. You don’t have to take ferries to get there, or house actors.”
Bauman hasn’t ruled out a return to Greater Victoria, noting he managed to make movies here for years without the six per cent. “I’d come back for the right project,” said Bauman, who had more of a beef with the city when he got a $19,000 bill for parking while shooting Sorority Wars. A producer he worked with said he’d never film here again because of that, he said.
Plummeting film production is having a dramatic effect on local crews.
Victoria-based first assistant director Shamess Shute has done only two shows here in the past three years — Hallmark’s Notes from the Heart Healer and Stonadoes. He has been commuting to Vancouver, working on shows such as Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story, the TV series Psych and Uwe Boll’s Bailout. Shute said he and his wife, Amber, a former film-industry worker now completing studies to become a herbalist, have no plans to move.
“I’d rather not spend thousands of dollars on ferries, so it’s not ideal, but I’m working,” said Shute. “I know I’m in the minority. Most people are hurting, especially big-features people who are starting to work on TV shows.”
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Meanwhile, the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission has posted a $2,000 bond to attempt to entice producers to use makeshift studio space at the old Mount Newton school occupied by Butler Brothers Supplies Inc.
Crews parked at the Saanichton facility while shooting a lunar-surface sequence at the company’s gravel pit for Impact. Sets including a police station and a jail cell were constructed there for Poker Night and are still standing.
“I understand there aren’t too many jail cells around without having to visit a police station,” said Butler Bros. controller Ian Sunderland.
Editorial: Movie-tax glitch unfair to Island, A8
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