HALIFAX – Nova Scotia is investing $8 million to help build a sound stage to further boost the province’s film and television production scene, which has grown significantly during the pandemic, Premier Tim Houston said Tuesday.
Houston also announced a further $15 million over five years to increase Nova Scotia film and television content.
“We have momentum from the last couple of years,” Houston told reporters. “This (announcement) is about using the opportunity to keep that momentum.”
Nova Scotia’s film industry contributed nearly $181 million to the province’s economy in the 2021-22 fiscal year — up from about $91.6 million in 2020-21 and $78 million in 2019-20, according to the government.
Laura Mackenzie, executive director of Screen Nova Scotia, said the new funding package is key at a time when the domestic and United States film and television industries are taking a serious look at the province as a production centre.
Mackenzie, whose non-profit advocates for local production, said Nova Scotia’s industry benefited from the province’s “delicate handling” of the pandemic, which allowed film and television crews to continue working with stringent safety protocols. The pandemic, she said, increased demand for locally produced content because people were stuck at home during lockdowns.
“A lot of studios were having a really hard time getting into production in other jurisdictions that weren’t as reliable,” Mackenzie said. “Where we stayed open reliably and consistently for the whole time … we generated a lot of interest in Nova Scotia.”
A sound stage — the first in the province for major productions — would allow Nova Scotia and international productions to work year-round in the province instead of shutting down during the unreliable weather months of November to March, she said.
“We would estimate that a sound stage could bring in another $100 million in production volume in a year if we had two productions going in it at any given time,” said Mackenzie.
The facility, to be built in Halifax, is expected to cost $20 million, with the remaining funds coming from the private sector. Mackenzie said talks are ongoing with potential investors. “We haven’t determined who we will be working with just yet,” she said.
Mike Volpe, chair of Screen Nova Scotia’s board of directors, said the $15 million for the new content creator fund will be used to support filmmakers, writers and actors while helping to diversify participation in the industry.
Houston said he will travel to Los Angeles with representatives of the province’s industry from March 12-16 to meet with executives from Disney, Netflix, NBC Universal and other studios to promote the province as a destination for productions.
“I think investments in the film industry are good, powerful investments that pay off for our province,” the premier said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2022.