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For those who enjoy's mega-production blockbusters...

 

Tax credit paying dividends

 

Move by Quebec government sparks immediate response from Hollywood. The phones have been ringing off the hook, says a local studio facility

 

By BRENDAN KELLY, The GazetteJune 22, 2009

 

For the first time in a couple of years, there is a mood of optimism in the local production milieu. That's because folks in the film and TV biz have the feeling that Hollywood filmmakers might be set to return to Montreal.

 

The reason for the upbeat atmosphere is simple - it's all about money, as it always is in the bottom-line-obsessed film business. The Quebec government announced June 12 that it was increasing its tax credit for foreign producers making films and TV shows here from 25 per cent of labour expenses to 25 per cent of the entire budget of productions shot here. That move essentially doubles the value of the tax credit since the industry rule-of-thumb is that labour accounts for roughly half of the cost of any shoot.

 

Michel Trudel from Mel's Cité du Cinéma, the city's largest studio facility, said the phones have been ringing off the hook since the tax-credit hike. The studio already has booked seven Hollywood movies, he said, and some of them will begin pre-production as early as next month. The budgets for the movies range from $30 million to $150 million. But that's all the detail Trudel will provide, saying it's up to the producers to announce the projects.

 

Trudel stresses the economic importance of this film work: When U.S. companies film in Montreal, they bring dough into the city, create high-paid work, generate loads of spin-off activity, and, at the end of day, provide more tax revenue for the government.

 

"It's not cash they're taking from (public funders) like Telefilm and SODEC," Trudel said. "It's brand-new money."

 

It has been a horrendous two years for Hollywood filming here, with very few major U.S. films or TV shows setting up shop. The silver lining for Montreal is local production, which keeps chugging along whether the high-powered L.A. producers are in town or not. One of the busiest Montreal producers remains Muse Entertainment, which recently wrapped work on The Phantom, a mini-series based on the iconic comic strip.

 

There are two U.S. productions here, and both chose Montreal as a location before the announcement of the tax-credit increase. Shooting began June 13 on Beastly, a CBS Films modern-day update of Beauty and the Beast, starring Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical, Alex Pettyfer and Mary-Kate Olsen. Last week, the three stars - along with the rest of cast and crew - were working in Old Montreal and Laval, and word from the set is that everything has been running smoothly.

 

The other U.S. show here is Blue Mountain State, a football-themed comedy series produced by Varsity Pictures and Lionsgate for the U.S. cable outlet Spike TV. Lionsgate is one of two Los Angeles-based companies - along with Joel Silver's Dark Castle - that signed deals with the Société générale de financement du Québec, the provincial government's investment arm, for financial help to bring film production to la belle province. Dark Castle has not shot anything here since the spring of 2008.

 

One dark cloud on the horizon is the continuing strength of the Canadian dollar, which was trading at just under 90 cents U.S. late last week. The stronger the loonie, the more expensive it is for Americans to shoot north of the U.S. border.

 

"We've been disappointed before and we could be disappointed again," Muse Entertainment chief executive Michael Prupas said. "The big issue is the Canadian dollar."

 

But Prupas said he believes the tax-credit change will boost production chez nous. "I think things are going to be picking up very quickly in Montreal."

 

Muse has no plans to slow its production schedule. It just wrapped The Phantom and will start filming Cutting Edge 4 - a film for the ABC Family channel in the United States - in August. The third season of the Gemini Award-winning drama Durham County will go before the cameras here beginning in October. (The second season of the gritty dark Durham County, made here last year, will start on The Movie Network on July 13.)

 

Also coming from Muse is German-Canadian co-production The Pillars of the Earth, a pricey eight-hour mini-series based on the Ken Follett bestseller and starring Donald Sutherland, Ian McShane, and Rufus Sewell. Alas, this big one will not shoot a single frame here: All filming will take place in Budapest.

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Une bonne nouvelle grâce au pragmatisme de nos gouvernements qui ont enfin compris qu'il valait mieux recevoir moins de taxes directes et plus de taxes indirectes par le biais de salaires et d'achats d'équipement et de produits divers tout en créant et soutenant des centaines d'emplois.

 

Nous n'avons pas le choix, l'argent est le nerf de la guerre et il est impératif d'être compétitif. Il faudra alors garder un oeil sur les nouvelles politiques ailleurs, afin de conserver le momentum et perpétuer la bonne santé de cette industrie.

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This iscertainly good news because we have been getting our clocks cleaned by Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Toronto has just opened the biggest production studio in North America which will no doubt entice movie projects to shoot there.

http://www.hollywoodnorthreport.com/article.php?Article=7319

WHat makes matters worse is that this studio is partly owned by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. two of the best directors in the bizz.

 

I came across a list of movie productions that have been filming and will film in Montreal. Mind you, this was issued some time in May and will no doubt be revised. http://www.hollywoodnorthreport.com/article.php?Article=7183

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