Normally I’d file this under the “from the internets” banner, but I wanted to draw attention to a few things in this piece on Adam Mimnagh and Huminah Huminah Animation in Nova Scotia (vi thechronicleherald.ca).
The piece tells a story that has become familiar to many of us in the industry. An animator finds himself out of work and, instead of turning back to the family business, going back to school, or switching careers entirely, decides to open up his/her own shop. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. After a few years, Huminah Huminah is still around, so, in this case, so far so good I guess.
I think I’ve met Adam once at the Ottawa Festival, I’ve never worked with him directly though. I can’t speak to the quality of the man or his work. He’s had some success, he’s probably made a few mistakes along the way, like most in his position. The article starts getting interesting when it touches on, first, diversification:
“The industry is cyclical,” Mimnagh said. “It goes with the territory, but we are trying to take out some of the highs and lows by diversifying.” (also, congrats to Adam for speaking of the cyclical nature of the business, instead of pandering to fearmongering and using loaded terms like recession)
He gos on to discuss getting into games, something that we mentioned back in our East Coast scene update a few months ago (thanks for the confirmation). Games are a smart move if you can get them to market, something Adam also mentions. I’m not a game guy so I can’t comment much here, but it does make good business sense for a small to midsize studio.
Adam then moves on to discuss why the company is located in Nova Scotia(he’s originally from Toronto).
Huminah Huminah could have been located anywhere in the world, but Mimnagh says tax credits, the provincial government’s interest in growing the sector, and the desire of the company’s core of Nova Scotia workers to stay close to home are keeping the studio right where it is.
“Other places have been wooing us, but the province’s digital tax credit makes us competitive,” Mimnagh said.
Then it goes on to give a pretty good breakdown of how the province is supporting the industry.
The digital media tax credits can help pay half of all Nova Scotia labour costs involved in creating interactive digital products, or 25 per cent of total Nova Scotia expenditures. An additional 10 per cent bonus is available for labour expenditures outside Halifax Regional Municipality.
Jayson Hilchie, a project officer with Nova Scotia Business Inc., the province’s development arm, says other incentives to prospective developers could include payroll rebates, federal and provincial research and development tax credits, and a credit of up to $100,000 toward marketing and distribution expenditures.
Cool to see how it breaks down.
But there’s one other comment that I liked, outright liked.
“It almost makes us competitive with overseas studios that are churning out games. And here we have a good work-life balance.”(bold added by me)
Sadly, work-life balance has become a buzzword in the business world. Anyone who reads Fast Company or any number of other business magazines can pick it up and sound like they care for their employees, but I still like it. I know it’s something that guides me in the decisions I make for myself, and I’d like to think that it guides employers too. Today’s employee has a lot of choices. It doesn’t always feel that way, I know. It’s easy to feel trapped in a job or a city, and it gets compounded as you grow older and have families to consider, but a big segment of the talent in this country is young and mobile. To be fair, you have to look ahead. Because of our tax credit system, you have to know where you want to work next year, and make damned sure you’re set up and paying taxes there by December 31st of this year (which is fucked). But you have choices if you’re smart about it.
Hmmm. Once again, I find I’ve prattled on without any real point, so I’m gonna throw a few bullets at you:
- You young’uns out there, figure out what province you want to be in for 2010, you’ve got a little less than six months to sort it for yourselves.
- Tax credit system in our country kinda sucks.
- Adam, good luck, I hope you’re not full of shit.