Financing Canadian Film Tax Credits

Film tax credit financing has existed in Canada for a number of years now. The good news is that this sought after financing has just been enhanced in a variety of ways thanks to additional enhancements to film and TV tax credits, that now also include the animation, multimedia, and gaming productions.

While some of the tax credits vary by province there is a clear bottom line – film tax credits are available, and you can finance them in a bridge loan /factoring manner. That financing allows you to complete projects, enhance the financial ability of the project, and even better, move on to the next project with additional capital!

In Ontario recently the government passed legislation that increased availability of Computer Animation Credits. For example, labour expenditures which are qualified and vetted increase to 100% for arms length employees who don’t have incorporation status – for example – ‘ freelancers ‘.

Another significant change is the government removed the requirement that eligible projects in animation and visual effects did not have to be created mostly with digital technologies.

Well that’s the good news on availability of the tax credit itself. How does the production owner monetize that credit into real cash flow and working capital – i.e. the ‘ bridge financing ‘that we mentioned earlier.

As most Canadian business owners and financial managers know the financing in such niche areas in Canada is not a widespread financing source. This is best described as boutique or niche financing with only a small handful of players participating. To maximize your financing in this area seek out the resources and experience of a credible financing advisor with tax credit financing expertise.

The amount financed, or advanced to your project under you claim in general tends to be 75% of the claim value – this is not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a solid generalization based on our experience. The funds represent the combined federal and provincial claim, with the aforementioned 75% loan to value.

Another great financing feature is that in certain instances funds can actually be advanced prior to the claim and final certifications. This certainly would not be pertinent to all parties but could certainly be a great benefit to some productions.

It makes common sense to all parties, including the financier to fund claims in excess of 200k as a starting point. Many fundings are of course in the millions of dollars. In certain instances other financing could also be considered as an add on – i.e. technology financing for computers, software, etc.

Tax credit financing in Canada primarily in the past has been related to the governments SR ED program, but clearly hot new sectors are animation, gaming, virtual reality, and independent film productions.

Customers always ask us how long the financing process takes. We always estimate 2-3 weeks with the customer’s full co operating on any application, due diligence, docs and funding issues.

Film tax credit financing, or tax credit financing in general is a fabulous way to bridge financing, raise short term working capital, etc, Talk to an expert to guide you through that process!

In House Financing Programs Making A Comeback

In House Financing is making a comeback in the Canadian market. When I first entered the car business in 1995 there were very few options for people who had credit issues such as bankruptcy, written off accounts, judgements or collections to be able to obtain financing for a reliable vehicle. I was lucky enough to work for a dealership that had an in house leasing company and we were able to sell cars to these people before the sub prime lenders came on the scene.

Over the past several years there have been many companies come into the Canadian automotive financing market to fill the need for most of these customers. They are relatively large national and international financing companies. They have signed the majority of the dealerships across the country to refer business to them. In 2005 there were no fewer than 7 such companies doing business all across the country with many others doing business in certain markets in the country. At the time of writing this article in 2010 there are only 4 remaining and they have tightened up on their lending practices because there is less competition in the marketplace. Of note the 3 sub prime lenders that were doing business all across Canada that are no longer in the marketplace were international lenders with 2 or the 3 based in the United States. When the financial crisis occurred in America we lost them due to their parent companies consolidating their operations into the United States.

It has been this tightening up of lending practices that is beginning to make a need for In House Financing at the dealership level once again. Today there are more and more clients who have credit problems and are in need of special financing solutions as they no longer qualify for financing from the mainstream sub prime lenders.

Many car dealerships are growing tired and frustrated at spending a lot of time and money in advertising to get customers into their dealerships to sell them a car just to have the lenders turn their customer down. It has been this frustration that has led many of them to take another look at an old concept and begin financing these customers themselves. So slowly but surely there are In House Financing, In House Leasing and Buy Here Pay Here programs starting to pop up all across the country to service this new marketplace.

There is very little difference in the various financing programs from a consumer point of view. They all work basically the same way. You have to give them a down payment that the dealers require to offset the risk they are taking in financing these type of high risk clients. Most of the down payments range between $500 – $2000 and are either used as money down on the loan in the case of In House Finance and Buy Here Pay Here programs. The out of pocket money is used as a security deposit and first payment in most In House Leasing programs. The security deposit can be used to buy out the lease at the end of the term without having to come up with any money out of your pocket at that time. No matter what the money you give the dealership is called, by the end of the term it is used to pay down on your vehicle.

The other major difference in these programs is how the vehicle is registered by the Registry of Motor Vehicles in your province. With the In House Financing programs the vehicle is registered in your name on the registration and a chattel mortgage is placed on the vehicle at the Registry of Deeds in your province. The chatel mortgage make it possible to repossess your vehicle if you default on the loan the same way a bank or finance company can. With the In House Leasing programs the vehicle is registered in the name of the leasing company with you being registered as the plate owner of the vehicle. The Buy Here Pay Here programs are usually run by a smaller dealership and they sometimes register a chalet mortgage the same as the In House Financing Programs but often they get the customer to register the vehicle in their name and then return to the dealership with the ownership paper and sign it over to the dealership. This way if the customer defaults on the loan the dealer simply registers the vehicle back into their name and repossess it from the customer. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter which program you choose to use if you don’t make the payments they will repossess your car but if you make your payments you will not have any problems. Remember all of these dealerships are interested in you keeping your vehicle. They are usually understanding if you are going to be a couple days late with your payment as long as you let them know beforehand and make arrangements to get caught up right away.

These dealers live in the areas they work in and are usually very helpful and are willing to work with you. Most of these dealerships require that you place full coverage insurance on your vehicle but some of the smaller Buy Here Pay Here dealers will allow you to just have basic car insurance because the vehicles they sell are usually fairly inexpensive and full coverage insurance just doesn’t make sense.

The hardest thing about financing a vehicle through these dealers is usually finding them. With so many dealerships advertising Guaranteed Auto Approvals, Bad Credit – No Credit Car Financing and the like but most of them do not have any options for you if you are declined by the national finance companies. You end up spinning your wheels looking for a dealer who will work with you causing you to either give up or get frustrated and buy a cheap car privately with whatever money you can come up with.

To try to fill this problem with finding these dealerships there is a new website launching called []. Its sole purpose is to connect people who need special in house financing options with dealerships in your area that provide in house financing. The majority of the dealerships on the website will have their own in house financing companies with some of the dealerships having the Go Plan program. The Go Plan is a special financing program through Carfinco is a national financing program that is very close to an in house program.

A word of caution about these programs. Remember that these programs are designed to help you re establish your credit and get you into a reliable vehicle at a reasonable payment. It would be extremely rare that one of these companies will finance a 2009 Chevy Silverado Diesel or 2010 Ford Mustang GT to you because their programs just are not designed for that. But if you are serious about buying a vehicle and re establishing your credit they are a good option for you.

Overcoming Fears by Pushing Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

I think most photographers can relate to me when I say that raising your prices has to be one of the scariest decisions that we make as photographers. I spent 10 years spinning my wheels in this business, before I over-came my fears and started running a profitable business. Did you know that 85% of photographers fail and 60% of them fail in the first year? I almost quit, in fact I did take a break for about 5 years, but I decided to give it one last go. I decided that if I was going to continue with my photography career that I had to be profitable. Who is with me?

With that in mind I decided to put my energy into the business side of photography. My photography skills were still not where I wanted them to be. Do we ever reach that perfection that we aim for, as artists? I decided that I was going to push forward anyways. One of my first challenges, was to stop comparing myself to the other photographers in my area! I still find myself taking that occasional peek and every time I do, I end up feeling frustrated with my own progress. This is not contributing to my growth nor is it contributing to yours! So, stop comparing yourself!

The next step was to join some local networking groups. Terrifying, I know! I can remember how my knees were shaking at that first event. It has been 3 years since I joined my first networking group and I still get nervous. Guess what? So does everyone else at these events! Remembering that, helps me push myself out of my comfort zone, so that continue to show up for the events, even when I desperately want to talk myself out of it.

I decided to continue challenging myself by taking the Certified Professional Photographer exam. Again, I was nervous and unsure but I put a date on the calendar and I made it happen. Imagine all the feels when I passed and I was able to hang my certification up in my studio!

Once I had my certification I decided to work on my mindset. How could I possibly raise my prices to be profitable. I once seen a talented photographer in my area, was charging $15 for a mini session with 40 images included! How could I compete with that??? The reality is, I didn’t. Guess who is no longer a photographer? Determining what YOUR costs are and letting go of the fear of charging 1000+ for a session is scary but necessary! During the pandemic I decided to go all in and I raised my pricing drastically. It was the first year that I was able to make a profit of $45,000. Keep in mind I didn’t work from March to November because of the pandemic!

The other big change I made that year was to switch to an In Person Sales (IPS) model. Again, very scary! What do you say? What if they question your pricing? What if they don’t think you are good enough? What if they just want the digitals? What if I sound salesy, I am not a sales person? All of those thoughts went through my head and caused me to put off IPS for many years. I learned really quickly that I love IPS and so do my clients!!! When I ask them what their favorite part of the experience is they almost always mention how much they loved coming back to see their images. Sometimes we base our decisions out of fear and not reality.

My next big jump was to hire a full-time assistant. Being responsible for another person’s salary is one of the scariest things I have ever decided to do. But I took a leap of faith and hired my daughter full-time. It has been wonderful having someone to help me with all my marketing, editing, styling clients during a shoot and so much more. I can now stop working at 4:00 everyday! No more staring at the computer until 2am.

I will continue to challenge myself, and you should too, because growth comes from taking risks and facing your fears! Not everything will work out but you will learn from it. My next big step is going to be to speak at Imaging. After teaching two PPA workshops, I realized that I really like teaching. So, keep an eye out for me on the list of speakers at Imaging USA!