Alberta film industry needs better funding model, says union president

Alberta film industry needs better funding model, says union president

Some members of Alberta's film and television industry say the province needs to reform its funding model.

They're upset the province plans to give $34 million to the Alberta Media Fund this year — marking a $3 million drop from last year.

The fund provides production grants as incentives for film and TV projects.

Critics note $5 million in this year's fund is earmarked for post production and digital media, making the total about $8 million lower than last year.

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Damian Petti, president of the media industry union IATSE Local 212, says the province has outgrown its film industry funding system and needs to create new incentives.

Petti says the industry needs labour-based tax credits to encourage more film projects to hire locally.

He also wants to see the cap to project grants raised above the current $5 million limit to entice bigger-budget productions.

"This is about jobs, growth, diversification," he said. "This industry affects everywhere from shoe shops to your coffee shop to your windshield replacements. This is a green industry that this government wants to get behind but I don't think this model has the chops to get them there."

Lee Malleau, an economic development consultant, is disappointed the province isn't doing more to boost the local film industry.

"Alberta has a really strong team of crews, for example, that are very good at what they do," she said. "But it's small and it's extremely mobile so if we don't work hard to keep them here, they're just going to work somewhere else."

She says the industry needs more financial incentives to be competitive with other regions like Ontario, Quebec and B.C.