Booming Nova Scotia film industry gets major funding boost

What a difference a few years can make.

In 2015, members of Nova Scotia’s film and television production industry staged major protests at Province House in response to changes to a tax credit they said would gut their sector. People moved away and products decreased.

Today, it’s a very different story, something reflected by the government’s decision to almost double the film and television production incentive fund. Premier Iain Rankin made the announcement Wednesday in Lunenburg, boosting the fund from $25 million to $48.6 million for this fiscal year.

Rankin told reporters the increase, which was not a part of the spring budget, comes in response to the demand from the industry. Sixty-one projects have been approved for funding so far this year and there are another 17 awaiting approval.

The premier said as long as there are qualifying projects, his government would be there to provide support.

Laura Mackenzie is the executive director of Screen Nova Scotia. She says the film and television industry’s relationship with the province has improved dramatically in recent years. (CBC)

“We want to make sure all applications are going to be approved,” he said.

“We think it’s money well spent.”

While he doesn’t know how the fund will look in future years, Rankin said it’s a good thing if it continues to grow because “it spurs economic development in communities.”

“The impact that the arts has on our communities is hard to measure,” he said. “We need to continue to support a thriving arts sector.”

Laura Mackenzie, executive director of Screen Nova Scotia, said the industry’s relationship with the provincial government has gone from “very bad” in 2015 to “very good” today.

The two sides have been working well together in recent years and Mackenzie said it’s paid off in terms of an increase in the number and size of productions, as well as the word-of-mouth advertising that creates for Nova Scotia’s industry.

‘We’re ready to boom’

She expects that to continue.

“At this point I can’t see the future, but I know there’s so much interest,” she said. “We’ve been building this momentum for a really long time and we’re ready to boom.”