American VFX industry feeling Canadian squeeze
America’s visual effects industry is feeling the pressure from Canada’s incentives programmes and there are calls for the VFX sector to be considered in upcoming trade talks.
Terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are scheduled to be renegotiated soon.
Ahead of these talks, US visual effects experts have been taking part in public hearings in Washington, DC.
There are concerns about Hollywood visual effects work being relocated to Canada, which puts pressure on American experts to uproot, or indeed threatens their employment entirely, according to a report from Canadian outlet Bell Media.
American experts are calling for the NAFTA renegotiations to somehow boost America’s competitiveness in the sector, although their Canadian counterparts argue that tax incentives are not the sole reason why visual effects work is flourishing north of the border.
“It’s important to note that 34 US states offer tax and financial incentives for film and television production - some higher than those that exist in Canadian provinces,” said Elliott Anderson, director of public policy and communications for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, in comments to KFTV.
“They are not the only or the most important reason why productions shoot in Canada: the Canadian dollar, our deep talent pool in front of, behind and after the camera make Canada an excellent location for all kinds of audiovisual production.
“While it is a global industry, US production still dominates. For that reason, Canadian governments of all political stripes have supported a complete and comprehensive exemption of the arts and cultural industries from the disciplines of the trade agreements.”
Cities like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto have become major North American visual effects hubs with generous incentives specifically for post-production work.
Several US visual effects companies have opened offices in these Canadian hubs in recent years, or have relocated entirely from the US, as firms face pressure from Hollywood studios to locate themselves in cities that have the strongest tax credit offerings.
Image: FreeImages.com/Mana Media