GNWT improves territorial film funding model

GNWT improves territorial film funding model
Trapper Andrew Stanley with his trusty sidekick Charlie are captured in a still from the show Fur Harvesters NWT. The TV show written, filmed, and produced in the NWT and has benefitted from ITI's SEED fund.Photo: Artless Collective.

Amendments to the government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) film funding model have been made to better reflect the stages of the movie generating process, allowing territorial professionals the opportunity to access to more money for their projects.

On July 11, the department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) announced adjustments made to Support to Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) in that they will continue to set aside $100,000 for NWT films, but the way the cache is distributed will evolve.

“We’ve definitely learned a lot from the industry and our clients on how to better improve the delivery model,” said Camilla MacEachern, associate film commissioner with the NWT Film Commission, the branch of the territorial government tasked with supporting local productions. She said that the adjustments were made in response to the needs expressed by her clients.

“Basically the idea is that this funding is for residents that are engaged in film and media arts…that are pursuing this career full time or have an educational background and are trying to do this,” MacEachern said. “It’s very often the scenario that filmmakers in the industry are working other jobs to subsidise (their income).”

Previously, NWT professionals could apply for support for three separate film production stages: development, marketing and promotions, and sponsorship. These have been broken down further to allow filmmakers the opportunity to apply for more grants and more money.

The development and production stage has now been divvied up into two groupings: small production and trailer and pitch production.

The marketing and promotion stage was divided into pitch marketing and product marketing.

Most of these new categories can earn producers up to $5,000 a piece, with the exception of product marketing, which can earn up to $10,000.

“It’s a good step in the right direction,” said Jeremy Emerson, executive director of Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP), a Yellowknife-based non-profit organization with a mandate to create, support, showcase and promote digital media in the NWT. “ITI is responding to things that we’re looking for and making the application process a little bit more film friendly,” he said. Emerson noted that the new model adhered well to the realities of industry deadlines.

The broadcasting economy has been growing in the NWT since the Film Commission was established to support the industry in 1999.

“Historically we’ve definitely…had some great successes,” MacEachern said. “One example is Fur Harvesters NWT, and that’s just the newest reality-docu series that was filmed, produced all in the NWT.” She said that the show received a lot of support through the SEED fund.

Emerson said while he is optimistic about the changes, it will be impossible to know their true impact until NWT crews have the opportunity to take advantage of the changes.

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