A Vancouver-based film production company is investigating whether to come to Brandon to shoot a documentary on alternatives to municipal taxes.
“Often we do these socially transformative series because we hear Canadians from coast-to-coast are frustrated with how tax dollars are being spent and sometimes it’s all of our fantasy to think about how we would run the show if we could spend the money,” said Nicole Lawson, Force Four Entertainment’s director of development.
Lawson said her research led her to explore taxation because it was a topic “we could all relate to.”
She added that further research about Brandon’s 2011-12 budget led Force Four to consider filming in the Wheat City if there were enthusiastic participants willing to try ideas on how taxes could be decreased. Lawson said the project has been in development for about a month.
“The mayor and the councillors gave us great feedback and thought this could be an interesting thing to do as well,” Lawson said.
“We have been trying to delve a little more into Brandon and Brandon is a large area. We are hoping to find a smaller community within Brandon that wants to take this on.”
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst was away on business and could not be reached to confirm or deny the city’s interest in this project. Lawson said approximately 25 families in a certain area would be needed for the idea to be feasible.
“We have heard that Richmond ward is a really diverse and interesting area, so we’d like to hear from people from there, but anywhere really, we are open to hearing from,” Lawson said.
Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) said his ward “truly represents the city because it has a really diverse mixture of housing and people in the ward.”
“I think it is representative of Brandon as a whole and I think it’s a great idea if they chose to come here to do this,” Montague said. “I’m sure they will find a lot of people with a lot of great ideas.”
Montague said he thought the documentary was an interesting exercise, adding he is already getting questions about the 2012-13 city budget.
“With the outrage over the budget last year and the way citizens mobilized to voice their displeasure, I think you see people engaged to a new level,” Montague said. “Any time you can look and ask what could the people do, at the end of the day, we are working on behalf of those people. So I think the more ideas you have at the table and the more concepts you throw out there, it’s a worthy exercise.”
Montague said there are ideas that could lower tax bills, such as having community volunteers tend to boulevard gardens along major streets in the same fashion as the riverbank cleanup crews that currently volunteer their time.
“That’s not a huge budget item, but it is an expenditure of tax dollars,” Montague said.
Lawson said her research has included talking with taxation experts, but people taking part in the show could come up with their own ways to save tax dollars.
“They could come up with their own services or try different ways of doing things,” Lawson said. “It’s not like it’s affecting anyone else or any of the other services going on. The idea is we’ll be able to give people lot of rewards and financial incentives to hypothetically save more money. That’s a big part of it.”
Lawson said because “there aren’t a lot of TV shows shot in Manitoba,” it could be interesting to bring a film crew to Brandon for the project. However, if Brandon is to be considered, interest needs to be shown from the community, and people will need to contact the company, Lawson said. Those interested can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
While Lawson said a national network has asked her firm to explore the possibility of turning this idea into a television show, she would not disclose which network made the request.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 1, 2012