Sask. film industry could fade to black: film makers

Saskatchewan’s film industry is disappointed with the provincial government’s decision to yell ‘cut’ during the budget on a tax credit program used to entice film makers to shoot in the province. 

“We can’t make a living here anymore,” producer and actress Shannon Jardine said. “People are becoming very competitive elsewhere in Canada. If we have nothing now with these budget cuts, no one’s going to come here.” 

Since 1998, the province says it spent over $100M on the program, but it is not sustainable anymore.  

“Instead of seeing growth, we’ve seen decline,” Culture Minister Bill Hutchison said. “Film production in Saskatchewan has decreased by over two thirds in the past five years. It’s down 18 per cent in the last year alone.” 

But those in the industry point to numbers from the Canadian Media Fund that suggest since 1998 productions have brought in $623M, meaning the province has gained significantly. Jardine says the cuts mean the future of film in Saskatchewan is in question. She moved back to the province several years ago thanks to the film boom. 

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“This entire industry that took so long to build and has brought so many young people back to the province, so many thriving careers, world class productions, will be dead,” she explained. 

Film student Jordan Palmer was shocked at the news. He says the program worked; more productions taking place in Saskatchewan meant more jobs. 

“There was so much potential, and so much promise, saying there’s so much work here, you guys will be able to be picked up for jobs,” Palmer said.  

Jardine says the tax credits helped showcase her work, including Dust Up, a TV show about crop dusters that landed on Discovery Channel. She was not the only one to benefit – Corner Gas spent six years filming in Saskatchewan.  

Brent Butt, the show’s star, took to Twitter saying “For those asking: No, Corner Gas wouldn’t have been filmed in SK w/o those tax credits.” 

Young film students like Palmer are trying to figure out their next step, and it may be one that sees them move away.  

“Now there’s no choice, there’s no option for any film students, so hundreds of students are going to have to leave,” Palmer said.