PEOPLE who work in B.C.'s languishing film business say the government's plan to develop a broad strategy for the creative industries may have merit.
But they add if more direct help isn't offered soon, their industry may have packed up and left by the time any plan is done.
"Yes, it's a small step in the right direction," said David Markowitz, an assistant director with 30 years in the business. But he added, "It's not the best thing they could have done for us."
What the $1-billion industry really needs to stay afloat are greater tax credits or other incentives that put B.C. on an even footing with what's being offered to film companies working in Ontario and Quebec, he said.
The B.C. government has said it currently pays out about $325 million annually in tax credits to the film and TV industry. But that still falls far short of what's been offered to film companies in Ontario and Quebec, starting in 2009. Since then, the industry has struggled in B.C.
"This is not brain surgery. It's a competitive industry," said Markowitz, who is also one of the people spearheading the Save BC Film movement.
"If we don't make ourselves competitive with other provinces . . . the infrastructure's going to pack up and leave."
Markowitz was commenting on Thursday after the B.C. government announced it will support a new umbrella organization, Creative BC, to come up with a broad plan for creative industries in the province.
The province said it would provide $1 million for research, development and international marketing for industries including film and TV, digital media, music and publishing.
Also included in Thursday's announcement were $6.25 million in new and already-existing programs focusing on the arts in education.
Bill Thumm, director of the Bosa Centre for Film and Animation at Capilano University, said he's still optimistic an organization like Creative B.C. can help advocate the value of the film business to government.
"It brings in a lot of money to this province," he said. "I'm hoping this helps us get to the point we're on a level playing field (with other provinces.)"
Peter Leitch, president of North Shore Studios and chair of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C., said in a statement he was pleased the government recognized "the importance of the creative industries in the province's economic mix."
Others who work in the film business were less impressed with the announcement.
Michael Arnold, who lives on the North Shore and previously had steady work in the film business as an actor, said the government announcement isn't going to help him. Arnold said he hasn't worked in the industry in three or four months and has had to take low-paying labour jobs just to support his family.
Markowitz said Arnold's story isn't unusual. "I have many, many friends who are either on the edge of bankruptcy or losing their businesses," he said.
He said he's worked on many feature films and "they're no longer coming here."
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