One of the most exciting film to date is about to start filming in NS….by Jerri Southcott
Spanish screenwriter and director Paco Arango was told about Nova Scotia’s tax breaks for filmmakers a year ago, so he immediately booked at trip to the province to scout locations for his newest movie, “The Healer.”
“It was love at first sight,” Enrique Posner, the producer of the film, told LighthouseNOW. “Paco fell in love with Lunenburg’s architecture and beauty the moment he arrived.”
Arango was so inspired by his visit to Lunenburg, according to Posner, that he made Lunenburg the main location for the film, the followup to his debut, “Maktub,” which earned him a Goya nomination in Spain for best new director.
“The Healer” is scheduled to begin filming the week of June 8 in Lunenburg before moving to Aspotogan in the eastern part of Lunenburg County, near St. Margarets Bay. The film will begin production — strategically — this month, just before the film tax credit is replaced by the Nova Scotia film and television production incentive fund on July 1. “The Healer” may be one of the last major productions in the county for a while.
The government has said the new fund will cover up to 25 per cent of costs for eligible projects, but the lack of published information and guidelines has left many unanswered questions about qualifications. And while the changes will not affect this production, Posner says, this amount of uncertainty could lead to future unintended consequences.
“If the uncertainty is not eliminated, productions will stop coming to the province and talented crews will not get the experience they need to keep up with the high quality standards the industry demands,” said Posner.
According to Posner, producers have a limited time available to them when scheduling movies around weather, prime summer months and talent availability.
“Crews need the time to train and learn their craft. If the tax breaks are taken away, the province will lose productions to other places,” explained Posner, adding, “the government needs to understand the value of filmmaking to the local economy.”
“We will drop a lot of money in a short period of time while we’re in Lunenburg — in the restaurants, hotels, and into the pockets of suppliers. All that money stays here. It’s like a big adrenalin injection and the bigger, the better. If you lose productions now, it takes a long time to recover. The government must be smart about it,” stressed Posner.
Mike Volpe of Halifax-based Topsail Entertainment, which produces “Mr. D” and “Trailer Park Boys,” is also a producer on “The Healer.” He said he’s working with a group of TV and film makers to make sure the province doesn’t lose productions to other locations.
“I look at the changes to the film tax credit as a bit of a speed bump that can be worked out. We are working on it together with the government so future productions keep coming to Nova Scotia,” said Volpe.