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the film industry in Canada is dwarfed by the United States’ (Davis and Kaye,
2011), a study by Telefilm Canada identified theatrical distribution, pay
television, and free over-the-air TV as the most important platforms for
Canadian feature films; film festivals were also viewed as important for
English and French-language feature films (Lafontaine, 2015).  In a separate study, Telefilm discovered the
greatest barrier to Canadians who show “manifest interest” in Canadian content
was poor promotional marketing and distribution (Telefilm Canada, 2017). There
is, apparently, a significant uptick in Canadians’ express interest in viewing
Canadian-made content; Telefilm reported a 61% increase from 2016 (ibid.).

speaking, Telefilm Canada found decreases in production volume, full-time
employment, and gross domestic product, with only a 1% increase in overall
export value in 2016 (Dept. of Canadian Heritage, 2016). These figures are not
particularly promising as many policies surrounding the production of Canadian
content were created with the purpose of supporting and vitalizing the cultural
industry and consequently fuelling economic development (de Valck, 2014).
However, it is difficult to develop a distinct cultural identity and hence
difficult to develop a separate Canadian cultural industry due to Canada’s
proximity to the US industry. Both countries share close similarities in
language and culture but not in quality and infrastructure. This means that
Canadian content is constantly being compared to Hollywood content, and the
contrasting quality is impossible to ignore. This sentiment is reflected by
many industry insiders as well. For instance, twenty eight out of the 40
screenwriters that Davis and Kaye surveyed in 2011 expressed a negative view of
Canadian competition in the marketplace. The screenwriters used phrases like
“can’t compete,” and “uncommercial” to describe Canada’s place in the media
marketplace (Davis and Kaye, 2011).

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  Despite the small and generally unsuccessful
market in Canada, the government continues to offer incentives to any
productions -both foreign and local- that wish to make a film or television
show on Canadian territory. In 2012, the Canadian government spent nearly 3
billion dollars on the creation of Canadian content (Coutanche et al,
2015).  A lot of this cost is accrued via
tax credits that allow a production company to write off a percentage of the
labour costs from producing a film or television show. For example, for
productions shot in Ontario and British Columbia (home to the most popular
shooting locations of Toronto and Vancouver), local producers receive a 35
percent tax credit and foreign producers receive 25 percent (Coles, 2010). Both
the federal and provincial governments spend approximately $470 million dollars
year in tax credits specifically aimed at encouraging foreign location shooting
in Canada (Lester, 2013).

  Foreign Location shooting is when a foreign
production company -typically from the United States- films a production in a
Canadian setting. The production value of FLS in Canada exceeds $1 billion
dollars a year (E & B Data, 2010). Data collected from those in the
industry indicates that FLS can be beneficial in some ways; for instance, 77
percent of both employers and employees in the industry claim to have gained
good work experience from FLS and 80 percent said that this work experience was
transferable to Canadian productions (E & B Data, 2010). However, a study
conducted by Telefilm Canada hypothesized that on average, Canadians would be
better off if federal and provincial tax credits for FLS were eliminated
completely as the costs outweigh the benefits (Lester, 2013).  Because although American FLS allow Canadian
workers to work with better technology and talent, most American studios opt to
bring in their own talent for the key creative positions, especially on larger
budgeted productions where the majority of employees and technical companies
end up being American anyways. Also, FLS can be referred to as “Floating
Factories” since their dismantling is predetermined and the economic and
employment benefits are not for the long term (Coles, 2010).

   From the research it appears that the most
economically beneficial facet of media in Canada are film festivals. Film
festivals are great for generating economic value and also are a platform for
introducing Canadian content to an international audience. For example, the
fast-growing Whistler Film Festival which is scheduled near the beginning of
the ski season, boosts the city’s economy by 10 million dollars due to an 11
percent increase in occupancy (Burgess, 2014). Also, one of the more
prestigious film festivals in the world is hosted on Canadian soil: The Toronto
International Film Festival (or TIFF). TIFF shows over 300 films and works off
of an operating budget of over 33 million dollars -and as previously stated-
drew over 340, 000 attendees in 2016 (Burgess, 2014). However, despite
providing a boost to the Canadian economy, the purpose of these film festivals
are not to showcase Canadian created content, and are generally headlined by
American and other international content.

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