Opinion

Bollywood bash full of bad optics

The optics were terrible.

While B.C.’s film industry is reeling as it’s getting undercut by Ontario and Quebec, Premier Christy Clark announced that B.C. (you the taxpayer) is spending $11 million to bring a copycat Indian awards show to B.C. just in time for the provincial election.

That’s right, while grips and gaffers are packing their bags to work back east, Liberal candidates, er...movie lovers can sit back and enjoy The Times Of India Film Awards in April 4 to 6 right here in Vancouver.

Maybe it will be a big success. Maybe Indian tourists will flock to Vancouver. Maybe they’ll decide to do a remake of Yaadon Ki Baaraat and shoot it here.

But more likely, if Bollywood shoots anything overseas, it will be in Ontario where there’s better tax credits. And it’s hard to gauge just how excited Bollywood fans will get over an awards show that has no history.

In India, the equivalent of the Academy Awards is the National Film Award. There are also the International Indian Film Academy Awards, established in 2000, which are held outside of India and take place in different countries annually. The Times Of India Film Awards have never happened before and have conveniently been created right before an election, one in which the provincial Liberals are expected to look like Godzilla just walked all over them.

Getting The Times Of India Film Awards looks like the equivalent of missing out on the Oscars and Golden Globes and settling for The Daily Planet Peoples’ Choice Awards. All this while many employees in B.C.’s film industry are unemployed. The government has rightly been getting hammered over this slight.

It’s true that Steveston has been seeing a steady parade of film crews (easily identifiable by their puffy jackets and constantly in-use cell phones) as shows such as the ABC hit Once Upon a Time and A&E’s Bates Motel have been shooting here. However, those are TV series and it’s the big features that have been avoiding B.C. for more subsidy-friendly locales, such as Ontario and Quebec.

Shows like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Man of Steel, which were both filmed in part here, had huge budgets and employed a lot of people.

But nowadays, many of  those types of shows are heading elsewhere, leaving employees to either try their luck here, follow the work back east and or putting their superior audio-visual skills to work in creating elaborate posters and videos making fun of Christy Clark.

And while the latter is trying to go all Bollywood, her government won’t match Ontario’s tax credits or at least throw the film industry a bone, other than a vow to come up with a strategy to further study the issue.

Surely, there is room for give and take here.

Meanwhile, the government isn’t getting any revenue from productions that aren’t coming here.

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