Ontario film, TV tax credit extended

To include development costs, story optioning, set design

TORONTO -- The Ontario government on Thursday extended its varied film and TV production tax credits to include development costs from story optioning to set design.

With private financing increasingly scarce after the market meltdown, the $10 million Intellectual Property Development Fund will offer local producers a 30% tax rebate on the cost of developing a scripted movie or TV series.

The move is the latest by Ontario as it looks to Hollywood and other international producers to partner up with local indie producers and develop screen-based projects.

The province is also looking to remain competitive with rival locales like Louisiana and New Mexico as the Canadian dollar rises in value compared to the American greenback.

Ontario already offers a refundable tax credit for labor expenses incurred in the design of computer animation and special effects for film or television productions. Now local producers will use the new film and TV development tax credit to offset the cost of acquiring story rights, developing scripts and even pitching film and TV projects to potential financiers at home or abroad.

For Hollywood producers that partner with Ontario indie producers, the funds from the new development tax credit will reduce the overall project financing needed to be raised as soft money increasingly figures in budgets.

U.S. networks are increasingly getting in on the ground floor with Canadian dramas after the success of the CBS/CTV series "Flashpoint."

ABC joined with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to develop the single-camera comedy "18 to Life," about young neighbors who marry on a dare. The Intellectual Property Development Fund is only for scripted series. Talk shows and reality TV series will not be able to tap the new fund, which follows the Ontario government sweetening its overall tax credit for foreign film and TV producers to offset all local production costs, and making the tax incentive permanent.