Wally Schumann: Growth and Success of the NWT Film Industry

Mr. Speaker, film, video, and digital media are at the centre of a growing and dynamic industry in the NWT, driving both cultural and economic opportunities and contributing almost $9.7 million to the NWT’s GDP.

This sector also provides opportunities for employment and self-employment with an estimated 24 film companies and 106 full-time equivalent jobs existing in the NWT today.

Most NWT film producers operate as sole proprietorships and face the same challenges as small or micro-businesses, writing their own proposals, self-marketing and handling administrative tasks in addition to their creative and technical activities.

In line with the 18th Legislative Assembly’s, economic priorities of regional development and diversification, our government is advancing initiatives and investments through the Northwest Territories Film Commission to support the NWT film sector,  and the benefits it generates for many other sectors of our economy.

Our actions and investments are guided by Take One: Northwest Territories Film Strategy and Action Plan which guides the planning and implementation of policies, investments and actions designed to position the NWT’s film sector for growth and prosperity.

Key to this is developing the skills and competencies of NWT film producers and providing training opportunities and experiences for members of the industry.   

Mr. Speaker, investments in the skills, capacity, and competitiveness of our film industry are resulting in growth and success.

In June this year, films were being produced in each one of our five regions. This shows that our investments are having the desired economic results, throughout the territory.

This week members of the NWT Professional Media Association and our Film Commissioner are in Toronto attending ImagineNATIVE,  a conference designed to showcase films made by Indigenous content creators.

As they promote the NWT and build beneficial bonds in the wider Canadian industry, our delegation is also learning and growing,  and will return with new connections and knowledge that will serve to add capacity to our industry.

Mr. Speaker, the Yellowknife International Film Festival, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.  Its program featured talented filmmakers from across the world and numerous workshops on marketing, distribution, and production.   I’m pleased to report the festival was a success,  building the international profile of our industry, providing opportunities for skills development within our local industry, and offering an outlet for NWT artists to share their work.   Among the films that were screened were six made-in-the NWT productions.

Our government takes pride in supporting this festival each year, and we will continue to invest in the opportunities it provides to advance growth in our film industry.  I congratulate the Western Arctic Moving Pictures team for their leadership both in the presentation of the festival, and in our industry.  

Another recent success for NWT film was the premiere in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife of “The Sun at Midnight”, a feature-length film from Jill and Jackfish Productions and NWT film veterans Kirsten Carthew and Amos Scott.

This film was conceived and created exclusively in the NWT with much of its cast, and all of the crew hailing from within our film industry.   It also marked a banner moment for one of our government’s newest programs. The Sun at Midnight was the first made-in-the-NWT film to receive funding through the NWT Film Commission’s Film Rebate Program.

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to continuing to streamline and enhance our offerings to the film sector. 

It is why we have chosen to increase access to the Film Rebate Program by decreasing the required minimum expenditures and enhancing the rebate percentages. It is why we have earmarked more support for film, and it is why we continue to talk with our industry stakeholders on how to improve the production environment even further.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.