Why Has Film Production in Vancouver Collapsed?

Is the boom in British Columbia's film and television production of the 1990s (see the chart above) a thing of the past?

Recently record unemployment has befallen the film business in Vancouver: “When we look at the end of January, we see there will be four shows shooting in Vancouver,” Pete Mitchell of Vancouver Film Studios told GlobalTV.com in early 2013. “That employs about 1,000 people and there are 25,000 people in the industry. Unemployment is about 90 per cent and that’s what is causing his real outpouring of worry.”

What happened?

Apparently the ability to offer incentives that might lure Hollywood producers north, is not something unique to Vancouver.

At the start of 2013, Ontario and Quebec and other locations are offering better incentives. In a twinkling of an eye, B.C. has gone from being the third busiest production centre on the continent to "possibly fifth or sixth -- behind Los Angeles, New York, Louisiana, Georgia and Ontario."

The troubles currently befalling Vancouver's film business illustrate one of the key problems with government incentives for film - another jurisdiction can offer a slightly higher incentive, and all the production that was motivated simply by government spending will run to that better deal.

Another huge problem with government incentives?

No bureaucrat has yet been able to figure out a system that supports only the good (economically sustainable) filmmaking - so incentives tend to encourage con-men and bad filmmaking... And it's tough to build a robust industry on shady deals and filmmaking that wouldn't be sustainable without government largesse...

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Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.