N.W.T. film industry wants more funding to get projects off the ground

Camilla MacEachern, seen in this photo from 2018, is the N.W.T.'s film commissioner.  (Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit)
Camilla MacEachern, seen in this photo from 2018, is the N.W.T.'s film commissioner. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit)

The Northwest Territories' film industry is looking for a bigger buy-in from the territorial government.

Members of the industry presented to the standing committee for economic development and environment on Wednesday during a public ministerial briefing on the territory's film strategy.

Camilla MacEachern, the N.W.T.'s film commissioner, told the committee that filmmaking could help boost the territory's economy.

She said the more money the government puts into the film industry, the more comes out of it.

MacEachern said their funding program has been operating at full capacity since it started in 2021.

"This is extremely exciting — it means we have 20 projects that are brewing and, hopefully, we will see them roll out in the next couple years," she said.

"I am aware that there's two of these projects likely to go into production in the next couple of years."

Great Slave MLA Kate Reid, who is on the committee that heard the presentation, spoke directly to Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Caitlin Cleveland during the meeting.

"Even if we are in fiscal restraint, this is somewhere where I feel investment is extremely, extremely important and I would like to see more funding for the film commission to do their crucial work to bring in diversification to our economy," Reid said.

The territory's film rebate program is meant to incentivize production companies to choose the N.W.T. as their filming location by rebating some of their costs.

The amount of money going into the film rebate program has gone up from $100,000 to $300,000 for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Sahtu MLA Daniel McNeely said he will also be one of the voices seeking more funding for the film industry, citing successful TV series that have been filmed in the territory.

"The recognition of our territory is broader than we think. So this is a good program. I like it — I like to see programs having experience in the past," said McNeely.

MLAs begin discussing the 2024-25 operating budget next month.