Saskatchewan Loses Local Talent as Refundable Film Tax Credit Vanishes

Regina producer Partners in Motion is set to close up shop and relocate to either Vancouver or Toronto, where generous incentives remain available.

TORONTO – The Saskatchewan government's decision to end refundable film tax credits, staring July 1, has sparked an exodus of local production talent.

Long-time local indie producer Partners in Motion is set to close its Regina headquarters, as it weighs whether to relocate to Vancouver or Toronto, where generous local film tax credits remain available.

“The elimination of the (refundable) tax credit makes it impossible to do any film or TV or digital work in Saskatchewan,” Partners in Motion general manager Jeff Stecyk said as the 20-year-old production house gets set to pick up stakes and move elsewhere.

The Saskatchewan government has axed its 45 percent film tax credit, and bucked a North American industry trend by replacing it with a non-refundable 25 percent tax incentive of little use to local filmmakers.

Some local production remains on-going in Saskatoon and Regina, including Partners in Motion shooting the eighth season of Crime Stories for Investigation Discovery.

But with the writing on the wall, local talent and production crews are headed to the exits, likely to British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, where provincial governments in recent years have juiced their tax credits to attract Hollywood producers.

“It’s not a load-up the wagon and head out of Dodge. It’s a slow ending of the industry,” Ron Goetz, executive producer at Partners in Motion and president of the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association, representing local producers, observed.

Some local players have chosen to stay, at least for now.

“We could have left Saskatchewan numerous times during the 12 years we have been producing animation here, but we have not. We are preparing to weather this storm and see how our future looks 12 months from now,” Tim Tyler, executive producer at Cheshire Smile Animation, a Saskatchewan animation producer, said.

Cheshire is currently in development on the sequel to 2008 TV movie The Side Show Christmas, to be produced in Saskatoon and British Columbia this Fall.

The project managed to qualify for Saskatchewan’s refundable tax credit before the curtain comes down at the end of the month.