Why Nova Scotia Film Jobs Are Important

Film and television production is strange business. You come up with an idea, assemble a diverse collection of creative people, work together, and tell a story. It’s one of the most inherently creative arts and in many ways it’s amazing that films get completed with so many different people bringing their skills, opinions, and experience together. But it works and it’s wonderful to be part of. Right now in Nova Scotia we’re engaged in a debate about our Film Industry Tax Credit, which the current government may be cutting.

Incentives for filming are a big part of making film and television as producers look for ways to save money and get the most out of the money and resources they have. Countries, states, and provinces all use various incentives with resources and finances to encourage people to make their films there. It’s why Breaking Bad was filmed in New Mexico instead of California and why the effects for Birdman were done in Montreal (employing 75 effects technicians). Closer to home in Nova Scotia, Trailer Park Boys films here and is set here. Other shows like This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Haven, Call Me Fitz, and all 8 (with a 9th on the way) of Tom Selleck’s Jesse Stone movies of the week have been filmed in Nova Scotia with thousands of Nova Scotians working on them.

There are direct benefits from the tax credit as it makes a great deal of financial sense to have majority of your crew members from where you are filming. To have that happen you need to have the people with the skills, so as more productions come through, people have more opportunities to work and build their skills. I’ve been lucky to teach people at the Nova Scotia Community College in the Screen Arts program and help people develop their skills to work in the industry. They are working.

I moved to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick 15 years ago to work in the industry training people to tell their stories. I was able to make a better living here and support a family and settle in the beautiful community of Wolfville. It’s home to me now.

The most rewarding thing is to see people move from minor roles on films to having more and more responsibility and to build careers. It’s fun to make films, but it’s also a job and to see so many people make the transition from something they love to do for free to something that they can pay the bills with is the biggest and most satisfying reward for me. But the larger productions from outside also have a very positive effect in terms of enabling filmmakers to tell their own stories in the down times between productions.

The industry in Nova Scotia is different from other larger production centres in terms of how people move around between roles. In Hollywood or Toronto if you have a job, it can be a challenge to move out of that job into a different area. In Nova Scotia we have people who will be working as an assistant editor one day, but then writing and directing their own film on the weekend with a talented cinematographer who is a camera assistant during the week. The trickle-down effect works with the money, but more profoundly it works with the people. It gives us the chance to build our skills as workers and tell our own stories on larger canvasses as we develop.

We are part of a creative economy that has evolved and grown over the years. We are a community of artists who help others tell their stories, pay their bills, and then tell their own stories. My colleagues and graduates have worked on major films and tv shows, commercials, and corporate videos. They’ve formed their own business, hired other graduates, and have also donated their talents to each other to make sure that they can continue to work. We have a wonderful community of people living and working here and sudden, dramatic, and thoughtless changes can force people to leave to find work in what they love. We need to be careful, informed, and thoughtful about what we do and make sure that we support the thousands of people who live and work here to tell stories on our screens.