Reported by Ben Bulmer
Langara journalism grad Joel Harris is a successful screenwriter and published novelist, and he’s also rather good at his day job, making coffee.
Harris wrote and produced his first movie, Neutral Territory in 2008, published his first novel, A Thousand Bayonets in 2011 and is currently adapting it into a screenplay. Neither of these successes is paying him a wage though.
“I work in Starbucks, that pays the bills,” says Harris.
Quebec, Ontario benefit from greater tax credits
The Save BC Film campaign and its supporters packed a North Shore studio on Jan. 22, calling on the government to increase tax credits to enable them to compete with Eastern Canada and the U.S.
Currently, Ontario and Quebec give a 25 per cent tax rebate on the total cost of production, whilst B.C. gives a 33 per cent rebate on labour only.
Thousands of B.C. film-industry workers are unemployed
With the dollar as low at 63 cents in 2002, U.S. film producers saved vast amounts of money by moving productions to Vancouver. From this emerged a world-class TV and film industry, filming shows that became household names like The X-Files and Smallville. With the dollar now at an all-time high, productions have moved on to cheaper places and taken the jobs with them, leaving 90 per cent of B.C.’s 25,000 film workers unemployed, according to Save BC Film.
Harris thinks he could make a living screenwriting if the industry was in a better position.
“’Definitely’ is such a strong word, but I’d say that there’s a good chance that would be the case.
“If we have that incentive [tax credits] and we have that in place than there’s nothing to stop us competing with Ontario or with the United States.”
Langara film student Hillary Katlan said it was important to be optimistic when considering the job market after graduation.“I don’t know how realistic that is. I like to think that [unemployment] won’t be a problem.”
Premier Christy Clark said on Jan. 22, “$285 million on the part of the citizens of the province to support the industry? I think citizens are being generous with that.”