Thursday, April 10, 2008

Canadian stars take fight against Bill C-10 to Ottawa

Kudos to the stars and filmmakers for taking their fight against the industry-destroying Bill C-10 to Ottawa today. Stories here, here and here.

As stated here previously, what's most offensive and confusing about these proposed changes is the double standard when it comes to American or other foreign productions made in Canada.

Currently, Canadian producers that receive an indigenous tax credit can offset 25% of their labour costs, while foreign producers that tap the production services tax credit can offset 16% of labour costs. While the percentage is smaller, the dollar figure is generally much higher due to the larger budgets involved with U.S. productions.

The new rules will only threaten Canadian productions, while foreign productions won't have to worry about losing their lucrative tax credits.

"If you're going to have a double standard, at least have a double standard that gives the Canadian industry a leg up," says director Martin Gero, whose debut film Young People Fucking has been a lightning rod during the current debate, said in an interview this week.

"Why would you limit the industry you should be supporting, while helping the industry that doesn't need it? Everyone wants to make it about censorship, but really, it's just terrible business, ill-conceived from start to finish."

To me, this double standard undermines the entire intent of these new proposals. It appears tax credits will still flow to "offensive" American productions that are "contrary to Canadian public policy" and in greater amounts. So Charles McVety's tax dollars will still go to productions he deems offensive.

These provisions in Bill C-10 do nothing more than threaten to destroy the domestic Canadian film and TV industry.

"I know very few filmmakers that would risk trying to try to make a film that was controversial or pushed the envelope or was even interesting in any way if this bill was in place," filmmaker Sarah Polley said today.


ALW said...

Good grief - wouldn’t it make more sense to do away with the foreign credits instead?

Gero is right about one thing - this has absolutely nothing to do with ‘censorship’. How on earth did “not subsidizing” become equated with censorship? Have we lost all perspective on the gravity of what actual censorship is?

Sarah Polley says no one would risk making anything offensive without the benefit of these credits. So is she saying that artists are just in it for the money after all? What happened to all those noble notions of art being above mere commerce etc etc? It sounds like everyone’s admitting that the same Canadian culture that supposedly defines us all is so fragile and unsustainable that if we don’t subsidize it, it will disappear. How depressing: our culture is apparently dependent on film tax credits.

This entire debate is about people who are currently receiving free money, complaining that they might not receive it anymore, nothing more.

Matt Guerin said...

So ALW, you think subsidizing American productions filming in Canada, "offensive" or not, is just fine, but don't want to subsidize "offensive" Canadian productions?

I don't think Sarah Polley is talking about the risks of not making a profit. She's talking about the risks involved in suddenly finding 25% of your labour costs disappear after the film is done. After costs, most Canadian films rarely make much of a profit for the filmmaker - it merely is a labour of love. It's a success if everyone gets paid.

The question here is do we want a domestic film industry with Canadians telling their own stories on film. Bill C-10 will undermine the entire film financing system in Canada. Telefilm promises funding and banks pony up the money up front. If banks can't depend on 25% of a budget for a production, how can they guarantee those loans?

Yes culture in this country is largely subsidized. That's how it works unfortunately.

Geekwad said...

alw, I'm complaining too, and I don't get any money. I do get more Canadian movies, and I consider that a good deal.

Brian Dell said...

Telefilm doesn't provide grants to foreign productions.

ALW said...

No, Matt, I don’t think we should subsidize films at all, offensive or not.

If Canadian films rarely make much of a profit, why might that be? Could it be that it’s because no one is going to watch them? So who’s to blame for that - the government? Or the public? And if it’s a labour of love, why do they care so much if they get paid or not? If money matters, it’s not a labour or love anymore. It’s just business.
Please tell me you didn’t just haul out that old yarn about “Canadians telling their own stories”. Have you actually seen some of the stuff that qualified as Canadians telling their own stories - stories set in other countries, featuring foreign actors, while Canadian flicks which are too “American”, like Juno, don’t qualify? What sort of nonsense is that?

“That’s how it works unfortunately” is probably the worst argument I’ve ever heard for defending cultural subsidies. I am sure that you, as someone who comes from a historically oppressed community, can appreciate it’s a terrible excuse for defending something.

Geekwad, that’s great. My only question is why you feel entitled to have all your neighbours who don’t watch them subsidize your viewing preferences.