Friday, 08 February 2013 11:20

Swift Current likely to miss out on filming of Broncos movie

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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When Regina-based film producer Holly Baird starts scouting for a location to shoot a movie about the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, she will most probably travel down the Trans-Canada Highway towards Alberta.

Her company Trilight Entertainment has secured the rights to produce a feature film adaptation of the book Sudden death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos that was co-authored by sports journalist Gregg Drinnan.
“Right now, it appears that we will not be able to make the movie in Saskatchewan due to the decision of the government to kill the tax incentive,” she said. “We’ll have to take it to a different jurisdiction. We’re looking at Alberta because it’s a similar landscape.”
According to Baird the government’s decision to eliminate funding to the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit in the 2012 provincial budget had a huge impact on the film industry.
“We basically lost our industry as a whole here,” she said. “You’re talking to maybe one of the few people left that are trying to make a go of it here. It was completely disastrous to the industry.”
The Alberta government supports the development of a film production industry in the province through five funding programs, including a flexible grant equivalent to a labour-based tax credit of 45 to 55 per cent.
Trilight Entertainment is now planning to produce its future films in Alberta and opened an office in Calgary last year after the termination of the Saskatchewan government’s film tax credit.
“Obviously we want to shoot it in Swift Current and use the actual locations and have the community involvement,” she said. “It’s our home province; we love it here, but there’s a lot of stuff that has to happen in order for us to come back fully in Saskatchewan.”
According to Baird, the economic benefit of shooting a film in a community is quite large. It will vary from the need for accommodation to the use of local catering companies and film extras.
“We like to get the community completely involved, so we use locations in that town and we pay for those,” she said.
Swift Current’s location would have made it impractical for crew members to commute daily from Regina, resulting in a greater need for accommodation.
“We would be housing everybody there obviously,” she said. “A normal film crew would be around 100 individuals and that’s including cast.”
Swift Current actor Brian Dueck would like to be a part of the film and he already made contact with the production company. As a single parent with two children, he is worried it will not be possible if the film is made in Alberta.
“It was part of my youth,” he said. “To think that story is going to be told somewhere where I might not have the opportunity to be part of it — (it) really stings.”
He was 12 years old in 1986 when he heard about the bus crash over the radio. He used to travel from Waldeck with a friend to attend Bronco games at the Centennial Civic Centre, which later became the Credit Union iplex.
“I was a kid sitting in my house after watching a Bronco game a couple of nights before, all of a sudden hearing there was a bus crash,” he recalled. “I don’t have a lot of vivid memories from my childhood, but that certainly stands out.”
Dueck has noticed changes to the Saskatchewan film industry since last year, with production companies and people going elsewhere.
“Scrapping that tax credit basically scrapped my opportunity to work as a professional actor unless I want to move,” he said.
Susan Hetu, who is special advisor to the Deputy Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport, said the government has been working on a replacement program for the film tax credit.
“We knew there would be an impact and we’ve heard the film industry loud and clear that there needs to be a replacement program,” she told the Prairie Post.
The government initially considered a non-refundable tax credit, but the film industry did not consider it to be a feasible alternative.
“So we discarded that idea and have been working with SMPIA (Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association) and looking to our neighbours for other incentives to the film industry that are not tax-based,” she said.
In July 2012, the government launched a consultation process for the creative industries, including the film industry, to develop a new strategy for supporting creative enterprises in Saskatchewan.
“In our search for a replacement program we discovered that all of the creative industries have needs and so we thought about finding something that will work for everybody,” she said.
An announcement by Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport Kevin Doherty about the strategy was scheduled to take place this week. Hetu said it will include details about support to the film industry.
“It won’t be a tax based support, but it will definitely be something that’s bankable,” she noted.

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