The British Columbia government approved a 2015 budget that includes new funding to expand the existing Digital Animation or Visual Effects (DAVE) tax credit to include post-production film activities. The expansion will be effective as of March 1.
In an official statement, B.C. officials said the measure would "help keep B.C.'s film and video game industries healthy." The DAVE tax credit was originally introduced in 2003 at a rate of 15%. In 2010, the rate was increased to 17.5%. Movie production in B.C. generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue for the Canadian province.
The Vancouver Post Alliance (VPA), a non-profit organization founded in 2013, endorsed the new incentives. "It encourages domestic and foreign content creators to finish post-production in British Columbia, thereby closing the loop on our competitive position and defining B.C. as a true global digital center," said VPA Chair Suzanne Thompson, VP of Sales for Encore Vancouver, in a prepared statement. "We are now in a strong position to attract new digital content business and stimulate new knowledge-based jobs—an exciting development for our vibrant creative economy."
"BC's industry tax policy is tied to jobs, and the expansion of DAVE will drive growth by capitalizing on our underutilized market strengths in post-production," said MPPIA Chair Peter Leitch in a separate prepared statement.
If the expanded incentives do for post what the original program did for VFX in Vancouver—encouraging the kind of runaway production that had VFX shops like Sony Pictures Imageworks relocating north of the border—it could put even more pressure on post-production in L.A. ILM, Digital Domain, and MPC are among the VFX houses that have opened offices in Vancouver to take advantage of tax credits.
The strongest voice speaking out against tax incentives — in the U.S., in Canada, or anywhere else — was Daniel Lay, the blogger better known as VFX Soldier, who led the ADAPT campaign to mount a legal case against Hollywood studios that sent VFX work out of the U.S. Lay got as far as forming a trade organization and hiring a law firm before giving up the crusade last month due to a lack of funding. In his blog post calling an official end to the legal effort, Lay suggested that his fundraiser fizzled in part because "the industry in California collapsed as work moved to Canada," leaving many U.S. VFX artists out of work, in transit to new Canadian offices, or leaving the industry entirely.