Growing Media Industry On Screen in Manitoba
Posted by Nordicity on Nov 05, 2013

Home-grown productions, foreign location services and a growing digital media sector have put Manitoba’s media production industry on a roll, and a new economic impact analysis released today points to the significant contribution the industry makes to the province.

Analyzing data from numerous sources for the five-year period from 2008 – 2009 through 2012-2013, Snapshot 2013 provides a comprehensive review of the Manitoba media production industry’s structure, workforce, emerging trends and significant contributions to the province’s economy, as well as the social and cultural benefits it generates.

Snapshot 2013 was commissioned from Nordicity Group Ltd. by On Screen Manitoba, the non-profit, member-driven professional association that leads, builds and represents Manitoba’s media production industry. Nordicity produced the first version of Snapshot in 2009.

Accumulating a total production volume of $542.3 million over the five-year period studied, the Manitoba media production industry recovered strongly from a global economic crisis low of $74 million in 2009 to reach $129.9 million in 2012-2013. This increase in production volume is tied to a shift from a foreign location service driven industry to a co-production driven one. Manitoba’s co-production activity is up by some 50% over the previous five- year period. Co-productions, at 42% of total production, now represent the single largest segment of film and television production in the Province, contributing $226.9 million to the five-year production volume total.

Co-production deals; which include, international treaty co-productions, interprovincial co-productions and American co-ventures, provide broader financing sources and speak to the increasing sophistication of Manitoba production companies. An increase in co-productions considered along with the steady production of domestic (100% Manitoba-owned) projects means more Manitoba production companies have more control over their intellectual property. In the long term, this is expected to result in more revenue for production companies.

“The past five years have also seen confirmation of a digital media cluster in Manitoba with new ventures in commercial animation, VFX and interactive productions to compliment film and television projects,” noted Nicole Matiation, Executive Director of On Screen Manitoba. “Just this past year, two companies have been involved in various stages of the co-production of animated features and several companies are involved in joint interactive and linear productions.”

“Manitoba has always punched above its weight when it comes to film production, but few Manitobans realize the capacity of our local producers and talent,” said Carole Vivier, CEO & Film Commissioner for Manitoba Film & Music. “This significant increase in co-production is a testament to the continued growth of our producers and production companies. Thanks to the support of the Government of Manitoba (and their inclusion of the Manitoba Co-Producer bonus as part of the Film & Video Production Tax Credit) we can anticipate an economically vibrant, diverse and increasingly stable production industry in the coming years.”

Employment figures in the study also point to increased stability and strength of production companies. In 2012, labour costs amounted to more than 58% of Manitoba production companies’ expenses, representing approximately 462 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) up significantly from the 200 recorded in 2007. The average salary of production company employees is $56,000 annually. Overall the industry generated an estimated 6333 FTEs from 2008-2009 through 2012-2013 or an average of 1267 FTEs annually.

The media production industry had a total GDP impact of $357 million over the past five years (or an average annual contribution of $71.4 million) and it attracted some $291 million (or an average of $58.2 annually) in production financing from outside of the ProvinceOver that same five-year period the province contributed some $86 million in financing through Manitoba Film and Music’s equity program and the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, attracting additional financing of $300 million, in other words, each dollar of the Province’s contribution attracted $3.84 in financing from other sources. In considering the tax revenues generated through the $86 million financing contribution, the Province recouped 84% of its outlays between 2008-09 and 2012-2013.

“The level of growth and expansion of activity by production companies in terms of co-productions and digital media revealed in Snapshot 2013 reflects the level of maturity of the Manitoba media production industry,” added Nicole Matiation, Executive Director, On Screen Manitoba. “Just under half of Manitoba production companies have been in business for over 12 years allowing for the accumulation of significant business, technical, and creative acumen. At the same time, Manitoba has seen a significant increase in new companies with 30% of companies having been in operation for less than 6 years and many of them growing through relationships with established production companies.”

The Nordicity study points out that as well as a strong economic contribution, Manitoba’s investment in the sector yields significant cultural and social benefits. It provides employment for artists in a variety of disciplines such as music and the performing arts with a number of media production technical and creative crew working in both film and theatre. Domestic productions and co-productions with higher Manitoba ownership represent increased opportunity for the expression of a Manitoba perspective. Based on 2012 survey results and echoing trends from the 2009 study, the sector also offers leadership opportunities for the Aboriginal creative community (23 % of production companies were at least partly owned by Aboriginal or Métis producers); other visible minorities (14% of production company survey respondents identified as members of another visible minority group); and women (48% of production company owners in 2012 were women with many key industry stakeholder organizations being run by women). Manitoba is also a key centre for French language production outside of Québec, while just 3% of Manitoba production companies produce uniquely in French they are responsible for 16% of overall production.

"This study tells a compelling story and members of Manitoba's production community can be proud of their contributions to the industry's success," said Joanne Levy, a Manitoba producer and Chair of On Screen Manitoba.