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'Open for business': New website hopes to keep film industry rolling in Nova Scotia

HALIFAX - When Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia shut its doors in Halifax this past spring, so did the industry’s locations management office.

Extras take a break between takes on the set of the Book of Negroes, part of which was filmed in Shelburne, on Nova Scotia's southwestern shores.

That move was disconcerting to veteran locations scout and manager Shaun Clarke. 

“Since the next tax credit has been in place without a film locations officer, there’s really nothing in the pipe at all,” he said Monday. 

“There’s no work booked now.”

He explained that office acted as a film commission that provided location information for out-of-town producers and filmmakers who had inquires about shooting in the province. 

Clarke’s frustrations eventually became a cause for action while he working on the new season of The Trailer Park Boys in June. 

Weeks later, with the help of industry volunteers, including the Director’s Guild of Canada-Atlantic Region and Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) – a development agency under the province’s Department of Business –  a new website was launched:

“You can only whine and complain so long and then you juts got to step up to the plate and do it yourselves,” Clarke said.

The new site acts as a directory for anyone curious about filming in the province, providing contact information to local film unions, incentives and equipment rental houses. 

It also features a short video showcasing different locations around the province, from the sunset isles of Cape Breton to storied architecture of Lunenburg. 

“You have to market yourselves, if people don’t know that you exist they’re not going to come and buy,” Clarke explained. 

“It’s like running a shoe store with the door closed. You have to be open for business and now we are.”

Clarke calls the new site a de facto film commission that builds capacity with NSBI, which he hopes will someday establish another commission of its own. 

“The function sort of got dumped in their lap and yet they didn’t really have the capacity or wherewithal to field inquiries from filmmakers,” he explained. 

However, the department’s minister, Mark Furey, said Monday that while the industry’s film fund is still in transition, it is most prudent to keep the dialogue open and determine how to best meet the industry’s needs. 

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