Lunenburg Doc Fest wants fellow film enthusiasts to know about the Nova Scotia government’s recent announcement (as part of their annual budget) that they are cutting the Film Tax Credit by 75% and, effective immediately, closing Film and Cultural Industries Nova Scotia.

Lunenburg Doc Fest supports Nova Scotia filmmakers and is a member of Screen Nova Scotia, the organization leading the charge to reverse the government’s decision. LDF champions film in Nova Scotia and beyond, as indicated in our mission statement:

Lunenburg Doc Fest celebrates the art of documentary, creating an enriching cultural experience and place of connection between filmmakers and film enthusiasts in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

On April 3rd, a fellow Screen Nova Scotia member, Christopher Ball, asked Lunenburg Doc Fest to share the message below. We support the efforts of Screen Nova Scotia and hope that they will be able to work with the Nova Scotia government to rectify the situation.

Christopher Ball is a well known Cinematographer, Board member of the Lunenburg County Film Series, and on the Advisory committee of Lunenburg Doc Fest. He writes:

I hope you don’t mind a posting about the NS Film Tax Credit. I am sending this to you as I feel you are an audience that is passionate about film and culture in NS, and that you will be concerned about what is happening and what we are about to lose.

If you care about the arts and this issue and would like to support the cause, please read on. If not, you can delete.

The NS Film Tax Credit is due to be gutted (reduced by 75%) once the new budget passes, probably this week. The government has put out a lot of very misleading information about the tax credit in the last couple of weeks to push their cause, so most of what you’ve heard in the news from Minister Whelan is grossly exaggerated and so narrowly interpreted as to be a complete misread of the numbers. The “tax credit” is a bit of a misnomer, in that it is actually an incentive or investment, where 50% of Nova Scotia Labour costs can be rebated to the producer after filming is complete, all taxes are paid up and accounts closed. Last year, the investment was $25 million. After the NS labourers pay their personal taxes at the end of the year, the government will recoup up to 18 million of that, so the final investment is closer to $6 million. Last year, that investment generated $150 million worth of related economic activity, much of that in non-film related industries like tourism, hotels, lumber, supplies, catering, restaurants, stores, car rental, taxi’s…it’s a big list. It also created over 2000 direct jobs. That $25 million investment is not a fixed “cost”, it is a percentage of the business that comes in, so we’ll never “lose” on it…it is always a net gain!

A significant amount of the money came to the province was from foreign source, money that would never otherwise be generated here. (50 million from Haven alone) The film and media business is a global industry, worth an estimated 500 billion dollars and it is highly mobile, requiring no permanent bricks and mortar location to set up shop. In order to get a piece of that business, locations have to be very competitive on all fronts, but particularly with financial incentives. Without that central pillar, all other benefits start to fall away and producers simply go elsewhere. It’s happened before in many other jurisdictions wordwide. Here’s an example of a story that is identical in almost every detail, with an outcome that will most certainly be identical:

The government’s position on this makes so little sense that one has to wonder if there is not some other agenda at work. What are they personally gaining that they are willing to throw away an entire vibrant business? 25 million out of a total budget of 19 billion is statistically insignificant, and yet they are intent on making it go away.

In addition to gutting the tax credit, the government immediately closed the Nova Scotia Film office (last week, before the budget was even passed) throwing several CURRENT projects in the lurch with no way to get permits, complete their financing packages and deal with past tax credits. It’s a real mess! All of the skills in that department are gone, fired overnight. This office not only serviced the film, music and arts industries, but promoted NS as a location … all that expertise is gone, all of their connections lost.

All of this was with no consultation with the film business. The tax credit officially ends on July 1st, so an entire business has less than 3 months to adjust … an impossibility when film production operates on an international model of financing, and many projects take 3 or 4 years to develop. The premier himself last year said that the tax credit would be protected until 2020 and we, as an industry, were gearing up for that change. Now, it has been cut with 3 months notice. A lot of damage has already been done as our international reputation was largely based on stable tax credits and a stable industry. The damage is hard to assess even if the full tax credit came back tomorrow.

If you care about Nova Scotia’s cultural industries, please write or call your local MLA. Please share this information to others in the arts community. We are about to lose one of the best income generators in the arts community, one that benefits all the other arts. If we lose our actors, theatre will suffer, If we lose our composers, craftspeople and filmmakers, the music industry will suffer, film festivals will suffer, co-ops will suffer, film schools will suffer….all of the arts will suffer

Link to MLA addresses:

Hard copy letters are better than emails, and an actual visit to your constituency office is even better. We are hoping to organize a rally this coming Wednesday April 15th at Government House … please look for details and come and support us if you can. Info will be posted at:

Thanks in advance for your support, and please pass this email on to any arts community you may be a part of.

Christopher Ball