Outlook 2017: BC Entertainment Industry Keeps on Growing

Courtesy of BusinessInVancouver

Call it a good problem to have.

The success of B.C.’s film and TV sector pushed the B.C. government to announce in February cuts to tax credits when the provincial budget revealed incentives would cost taxpayers $500 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

In October, tax credits for new productions dropped from 33% to 28% for film and TV productions, and tax credits for visual effects (VFX) and animation studios dropped from 17.5% to 16%.

“Nothing indicates that 2017 will see a departure from the growth we have been seeing,” said Florian Wagner, creative director at Vancouver-based animation house Bardel Entertainment Inc. “The biggest challenge to our ability to grow further is, at this point, the availability of creative and technical talent in our industry.”

But Wagner added that changes to the tax credits B.C. offers could affect how favourably the province’s entertainment sector is viewed from the outside.

“The recent changes have fortunately been handled somewhat carefully,” he told Business in Vancouver. “The bigger risk so far has not so much been the reduction in tax benefits, but the introduction of doubt into the equation.

“In the wake of the recent changes, the Vancouver animation studios have had to do a lot of work to convince the partners abroad that this adjustment does not constitute a new trend, but was a one-time adjustment only.”

Whatever growth comes in 2017, it may still be tough to top the banner year that was 2016.

Last year action-adventure features like Deadpool and Star Trek Beyond spent $40 million and $70 million, respectively, of their budgets within B.C. borders.

The Motion Picture Association – Canada also calculated that the latest season of TV series Supernatural spent about $40 million filming in B.C.

It’s little wonder British Columbians often associate the film and TV sector with Hollywood. But Creative BC CEO Prem Gill, whose agency promotes the province’s creative sectors across the globe, said 2017 would bring an increase of international co-productions to B.C.

“Companies from Asia and India [will] look to establish a foothold in B.C. in order to access the North American market while companies from the U.K. and Europe are expanding into the largest VFX and animation cluster in the world,” she said.

In late 2016, Beijing’s Plusmos Film Technology partnered with Vancouver-based VFX executives to launch the new production company Darkhorse10.

Co-founder and CEO Jason Dowdeswell said his company would hire 50 workers within the first few months of 2017 to work on VFX projects and help develop Canada-China co-productions.

Meanwhile, momentum in the entertainment sector is expected to go beyond animation, VFX, film and TV.

Gill said advancements in virtual reality and new funding for the music industry will kick-start those sectors.

There are an estimated 6,400 artists, 123 music studios and 80 independent music labels in Vancouver, according to data from Creative BC.

Next year, Creative BC will continue to roll out $15 million provided to it through the government’s BC Music Fund.

“Our province will experience significant economic growth in the music sector,” Gill said.