Friday, March 23, 2012

My Letter to Premier Brad Wall in support of the Film Employment Tax Credit

Recently, the Government of Saskatchewan announced its intention to axe the Film Employment Tax Credit. Here's how I feel about it. A copy has been sent to Brad Wall. If you agree, if you have worked in the business, if you have felt the positive effect of Saskatchewan's film industry, or even if you enjoyed watching Corner Gas, you really ought to contact the Premier yourself and ask him to continue the incentive.

Dear Premier Wall,

My name is J. Adrian Cook, writer and musician from Harris, Saskatchewan.

I dread the end of the Film Employment Tax Credit. This is not because I am planning to film in Saskatchewan. My dread is also not for my writing career, though it may limit my options as a screenwriter. My dread is also not for my future on set, though I have been sustained in the past by roles as an extra and production assistant. My finances will not be directly stung.

The reason for my dread is that I will say goodbye to so many friends. These are people who work in the film industry and whose livelihoods will be devastated. For years, they have made their living from foreign production companies enriching in our province. Now, these companies have little reason to film here. Their money will evaporate. If my friends wish to follow their dreams or even sustain themselves, they will have to move to Vancouver or Toronto.

I am no economist. I cannot speculate on the monetary result of the cancellation of the incentive. However, I can accurately speculate what will happen to my friends.

I am friends with screenwriters. For them, the end of the program will affect them slowly. Writers can write anywhere, but it helps to be near filming. Making film connections is important for them and if they cannot make them in Saskatchewan they will have to leave.

I am friends with actors and grips. These people can find work in local professional theatre if they are lucky. However, this is a limited job market and it will not provide for them. They will leave sooner.
My unluckiest friends are the directors, cameramen, and production assistants. For them, there is no substitute: they need film or they starve. They will leave soonest.

I seem to recall the Saskatchewan Party criticizing previous NDP governments because of a brain drain. Ending the Film Employment Tax Credit will send hundreds of our brightest citizens packing. Me and my province will be poorer, lonelier and sadder.

Please reconsider cutting this program.

-J. Adrian Cook