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Cinema industry: Montreal perks up

 

by Guillaume Picard

View all articles from Guillaume Picard

Article online since August 20th 2007, 9:48

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cinema_14.jpg

 

Filming in Montreal is substantial, year after year. The city is one of the major production centres in North America. (Photo: Studio Mel’s)

 

Cinema industry: Montreal perks up

The filming of blockbuster “The Mummy III” has been going on for a few days in the Cité du cinéma, which in itself is proof that the glorious days of filming in Montreal have returned after a difficult three-year period. American studios ignored our city and there was a decrease in production volume during that difficult time.

When Brad Pitt arrived downtown in the spring to film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” with director David Fincher, (who also directed the successful “Seven” and “Fight Club”), the whole city was excited to see the handsome husband of Angelina Jolie.

 

The Quebec Cinema and Television Office (French acronym: BCTQ) believes that 2007 could generate a production volume beyond $250 million and sales of more than a billion dollars, half of which will go to salaries. That should meet the bread and butter of some 35,000 people who work in the 500 cinema companies in Quebec. In July alone, the results were past the half-way mark achieved in 2006, making up for the difficult three years we experienced.

 

Twelve long Quebec films are in the process of shooting this summer, as well as 15 television series and four American films (a couple of which are “Mr. Nobody” and “Afterwards”).

 

Michel Trudel, owner of Cité du cinéma, the largest cinematography centre in North America, confirms that 2007 “is a good year for the entire industry. Several conflicts since 2004 have now been settled on the part of unions and producers. These days, foreign film producers know which ones they should be working with and it’s going a lot better.”

 

But Mr. Trudel already sees another conflict in the horizon for July 2008; that is, the conflict involving American actors. Will that be another blow for Montreal?

 

“That can hurt us, since the studios will want to film quickly before summer, delaying other projects. If the conflict is not settled, it will be fatal because the damage will be done. The industry will slow down for several weeks or months”, Mr. Trudel explained. He manages 18 filming studios in Montreal and St. Hubert.

 

Courting Hollywood is no easy task. More than 35 states now have incentives and tax cuts to attract the major California studios. Europe and East Asia also are increasingly offering their own incentives.

 

“Our goal”, says Hans Fraiquin, (National Commissioner of the BCTQ) “is to continue to go higher and to ensure that Montreal becomes a production centre of international calibre. We have always been behind Toronto and Vancouver, but in three years, we hope to be on equal footing with them.”

Tax credit for filming in the region

Just before summer holidays and following a meeting with the Minister of Culture and Communications Christine Saint-Pierre, BCTQ officials insisted on the importance of “implementing more attractive and more competitive incentives”, Mr. Fraiquin explained. Local productions can very well take three fourths of the production volume.” Economically speaking, that’s not the same for Montreal without foreign productions. Americans are helping us in terms of cash flow,” says Daniel Bissonnette, director of Montreal’s Cinema and Television Office which has been coordinating the filming with the boroughs since 1979.

For his part, Mr. Bissonnette hopes to implement an additional credit to support filming in the region.

 

“The unions have agreed to a zone of 25 km of which the central point is the Papineau subway station. They have a higher fee for filming beyond these parameters. A 6%-7% credit, for example would attract film companies that would otherwise go elsewhere. That wouldn’t necessarily be expensive for us and would make us very competitive. Even Montreal and its workers would benefit, as well as the governments and regions.”

 

According to him, the governments “will recover their investments significantly on taxes imposed on workers and taxes deducted left and right. Even with the tax credit that has gone from 11% to 20% in Quebec, the government comes out the winner.”

Montreal is one of the ten major film production centres in North America:

-35,000 jobs

 

-500 production and post-production companies

 

-1 billion and more of returns on investment each year, of which 50% will be for salaries

 

-75% of the production volume related to local productions

 

-16% federal tax credit

 

-20% Quebec tax credit

 

-500 various productions in 2006

 

-5000 filming permits issued in 2006

 

(Photo: Studio Mel’s)

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Vous devriez voir le mega mur géant qu'il ont construit à l'extérieur de la Cité Du Cinéma! Je me demandais c'étais pourquoi, et bien maintenant je sais que c'est pour the Mummy 3.

 

On dirait un gros Canyon de roche. Assez impressionnant!

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