Manitoba film industry sees major growth, influx of cash
in Winnipeg on Oct 29, 2013

The Manitoba media production industry is significantly increasing production in the province.

On Screen Manitoba has just released a study summarizing activity over the past five years, and it shows a production volume of $129.9 million in 2012-2013, up from $74 million in 2009 during the global economic crisis.

On Screen Manitoba is a professional association that leads, builds and represents Manitoba's media production industry.

The study, called Snapshot 2013, shows the total production volume over the five-year period is $542.3 million. Nicole Matation, executive director of On Screen Manitoba, noted the increase in production is linked to a shift from foreign location service productions to a focus on co-productions.

"This is a huge achievement," she said. "Co-productions are great for Manitoba and for Manitoba production companies because when it's a co-pro, they're maintaining a bigger piece of the intellectual property." 

Intellectual property could include the film itself, software related to animation, merchandising or all three.

Co-productions now represent 42 per cent of total production, up by 50 per cent over the previous five years, which, taken with domestic (total Manitoba) projects representing 14 per cent of production, means more and more Manitoba companies have more control over their intellectual property, resulting in increased revenue.

Recent successes include Cry Fly, a co-production with Buffalo Gal Pictures and Spain, the hit comedy My Awkward Sexual Adventure, co-produced with Ontario and Midnight Sun, co-produced with Manitoba's Original Pictures, the UK, Quebec and Italy.

Also contributing to increased film production is On Screen's activity in international markets.

"This contributes to an overall higher profile for the province, and the fact of the matter is, if you're not at the markets, you're not really in business," Matation said.

As well, Manitoba's tax incentive program remains strong and stable. Along with Nova Scotia, it's the best system in Canada, Matation added.

The growth of digital media initiatives is growing and expanding in Manitoba, too, with new companies specializing in commercial animation, VFX and interactive productions.

The study also shows an increase in employment figures, with the number of full time equivalents averaging 1267 annually. 

Premier Greg Selinger was on hand at On Screen's announcement on Tuesday to add his support to the organizations activities. Selinger said, "We're very proud to be creating jobs in the new media. These jobs are long term jobs for Manitobans. We're seeing people move to Manitoba because they know this is a place where they can continue to be creative and create employment."

Tuesday marks the end of the Access Program, co-funded by federal and provincial levels of government, which helped the organization with market preparedness.  

Selinger surprised Matiation at the announcement by presenting a cheque to On Screen Manitoba so they would be able to continue activities into the spring of 2014.

"The premier communicated very clearly to us and to the On Screen Manitoba's members and other industry stakeholders that Manitoba really does care about the media production industry, and they recognize the unique economic cultural and social contribution that we make to the Manitoba economy," said Matiation.