New funding for film and TV projects is attracting filmmakers in Saskatchewan, but there are still barriers after the elimination of the film tax credit in 2014.
Sask. Filmmaker Aaron Sinclair received funding from Creative Saskatchewan for his feature film, The Wild which is currently in post- production.
“I applied for it, I think, in the fall of 2019, and it was approved,” said Sinclair. “Not very long after … six or eight weeks after I had applied for it, and the funding was for 50 per cent of my budget. So I had to find the other 50 per cent in order to finalize that grant. That second half took longer than the grant because you have to go through trying to find private funding or other grants and stuff like that. So that part’s a little bit more challenging.”
It can be hard for first time filmmakers to find funds and access other grants, he said.
“It’s pretty challenging when you’re a first time filmmaker to find funding at all,” said Sinclair. “I’ve done some shorts, I’ve done some music videos, but I haven’t done anything that was that long. So I didn’t really have proof that I could do it. So it’s tricky to find funding in that way. The other government grants that are like federal are quite competitive, and I don’t see a lot of like Saskatchewan filmmakers really being able to get those.”
Creative Saskatchewan is a government agency that administers grant funding to creative sectors including film and television; music; life performing arts, which includes theater, craft, visual arts; and digital, which is mainly gaming and e-learning theater.
“Our goal is to administer the program efficiently for producers to access the feature film and television production fund, relatively with ease and not a lot of bureaucracy,” said Tobi Lampard primary liaison of film and tv production at Creative Saskatchewan
In it’s 2022-23 budget, the Saskatchewan government increased its funding in the Creative Saskatchewan Production Grant Program for film and television from $2 million to $10 million.
The government is hoping to attract larger scale Saskatchewan-made films, and rebuild the industry that crumbled when the Wall government cut the film tax credit in 2014.
Lampard said the $8-million increase is already starting to pay off.
“We’re going to see some really big impacts this year with this new injection into the film and television program,” said Lampard.
“It’s going to result in jobs on film production and post-production. It’s going to give filmmakers opportunities to work on larger production budgets. And also, our goal is to have steady work for crews so people have good paying jobs and steady sustainable employment throughout the year.”
There are currently no statistics on how many new films the funding is attracting as the increase is still in its early days, according to Lampard.
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“An increase in funding always means more opportunities for work,” said Sinclair. “For creators that are able to access the funding directly it means more original films and content coming out of Saskatchewan. Being able to take your script into production is always a dream come true, especially for young filmmakers.”
However, funding is not the only way to help build the local film industry.
“Any funding support is great, but even just interest is great,” said Sinclair. “Like going out to see a Saskatchewan film or trying to find a way to, you know, share it on social media or anything like that. All of that stuff really helps. So. I think it just takes some excitement about what we’re doing.”