There has been a lot written and said by people in Saskatchewan about the provincial government’s decision to change the tax credit structure for film projects made here.
Now an outsider is adding his voice to the discussion.
Director Robert Cuffley, who is from Calgary, recently returned to Saskatoon where he shot the feature length film Ferocious last winter.
“I don’t have a vested interest, I can go do my next one in Manitoba, but I left here thinking we’re going to come back here and do another one,” Cuffley said during a break in post-production at Glennross Studios, in Saskatoon.
Cuffley says that ambition is being thwarted by the changes to the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit, which had previously provided a refund for eligible labour costs.
The Provinces new non-refundable film tax credit, which recently went into effect, has been called unworkable by the majority of filmmakers, including Cuffley. Which means this trip to Saskatoon to put the finishing touches on editing Ferocious may be one of the last made by the out-of-province director.
“I think it was early January someone texted me and wrote that ‘Your movie may be the last one ever shot in the province.’ And I said ‘come again?’”
Ferocious is the fourth feature film Cuffley has written and directed.
Although he has no real stake in the future success of Saskatchewan’s film industry he has monitored developments with the tax credit situation closely and has strong feelings about it.
The passion Cuffley feels for the cause stems not just from his concern for the film industry, but also the positive experience he had while shooting Ferocious.
“When a movie comes here, it’s a big deal. You can see it in the crew, how excited they get and that helps the movie become a better movie.”
Now that post-production has wrapped on the thriller, Cuffley will be taking it to festivals and hopes to sell it for a theatrical release.
He also plans to return to Saskatoon for a screening, even if that’s the only kind of work he gets to do here in the future.
“I just think it’s such a cataclysmic tragedy. Any type of economy without culture somehow part of the engine, I just don’t see the engine going that far.”
Cuffley’s film Ferocious features a pair of actors with Saskatoon roots who got the chance to work in their hometown:
• Kim Coates who plays Sal is the city’s best-known actor, having appeared in films like Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down. He is currently starring on Sons of Anarchy as Tig.
• Michael Eklund, who stars as Eric in Ferocious, is currently filming The Hive with Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. He has also appeared in films like The Watchmen and the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.