It’s a record: the total production value of our province’s film and television industry exceeded 50 million dollars in 2017-18. That’s a lot of tax dollars from film projects going into our provincial bank account.
Take Maudie, the much-buzzed film that took home all 7 Canadian Screen awards it was nominated for. It starred Oscar nominees Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hake, and it generated $400,000 worth of tax revenues for our province.
Maudie also spent 2.6 million on employing people, and spent 2.5 million in the places it shot the film. 195 businesses in Newfoundland & Labrador saw money from this film being shot here. At the national level, Maudie generated approximately $6.4 million in total GDP.
Politicians, and that faction of the ill-informed public who once saw the Arts as a handout industry, are finally recognizing not just the cultural value of the arts in enhancing our lives, but art’s ability to be an economic engine for our ailing province.
In Budget 2017, our provincial government doubled its Equity Investment Fund for Film and Television production to $4 million. It’s a start. Minister Mitchelmore recently stood in the House of Assembly to “laud the achievements of the Newfoundland and Labrador film and television industry.”
He was fresh back from a visit to the set of season 3 of Frontier, a TV series shot here, starring Hollywood star Jason Mamoa. “What an amazing backdrop for this popular Netflix series,” he Mitchelmored.
Frontier is worth praising in these hard times our province is facing. The total production expenditure for three seasons of Frontier is approximately $73 million. 62% of the $73 million – or 40 million of it – was spent right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Frontier is one of several new and locally filmed productions streaming right now: Allan Hawco’s latest TV show, Caught, an adaptation of Lisa Moore’s acclaimed novel is currently on CBC. As is Little Dog, a comedy-drama written by and starring the ever busy Joel Thomas Hynes. These shows are respectively about a pot smuggler on the run from police, and funny look at a man looking for redemption after dropping his gloves in a boxing ring.
Little Dog was produced by Sherry White, a busy local filmmaker with credits on Frontier, and handfuls of popular shows and movies, like Rookie Blue, Orphan Black, Ten Days in the Valley, The Catch, Crackie, and Hatching, Matching, and Dispatching (on which she also plays Myrna). But lately, it’s the mega-hit movie Maudie that has her in the spotlight. She wrote its script.
Thanks to Newfoundland’s provincial production incentives, administered by the Newfoundland Film Development Corporation (NFLDC), each provincial tax credit dollar from Maudie resulted in $8.54 of economic output for the province. Shows like Frontier and films like Maudie highlight the economic potential of our province playing a bigger and bigger role in the Canadian film industry.
As Allan Hawco recently told The Overcast, all of the big film projects being shot here have built up a skill set among Newfoundlanders that is making this an attractive place for more companies to come and film their projects. Filmmakers know that we can offer them skilled film industry workers, from actors and grips to boom operators and cinematographers. There’s no need flying a whole film crew here and putting them up, and there’s no shortage of visually spectacular backdrops for a film or show.