British Columbia woos foreign, local producers


VANCOUVER -- Looking to encourage Los Angeles producers to shoot on location outside Vancouver, the British Columbia government on Wednesday unveiled a new $112-million tax incentive package for rural film and TV shoots in the province.

The provincial government introduced a "distance region zone" tax credit for foreign, mostly American, producers that amounts to 12% of their labor costs on location shoots outside of the lower mainland Vancouver-Whistler-Hope region.

The new rural tax credit for domestic productions will be 18% of labor costs.

The province will add the new 12% rural tax credit to the existing tax credit for foreign productions, which was recently raised by British Columbia to 25%.

"We really want to be a center of film throughout the province," provincial finance minister Carole Taylor said at a press conference in Victoria.

The new tax credit will apply to productions launched between Jan. 1 and Jan. 1, 2010.

The $1-billion B.C. industry has been hobbled in the past year by tax-credit hikes in rival provinces, the high Canadian dollar and the recently ended screenwriters' strike. The expanded tax credit will "spread the benefits of this world-class film-business," Taylor said.

"In the early days, people came here because we were inexpensive," she added. "Now they're coming because we're really good."

Industry leaders, including Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. president Peter Leitch and Vancouver Film Studios executive vp Peter Mitchell, applauded the move as a signal that the government is serious about keeping the film industry here competitive.

The province's 15% digital animation and visual effects credit remains unchanged.