Mr. Speaker, while 2020 was a very different year for film and media in the Northwest Territories, we have continued to work behind the scenes to ensure we are supporting the sector so they are ready to welcome new opportunities when border restrictions are eased.
As we all know, the pandemic has impacted economic and social sectors around the world. The Northwest Territories film and media sector was no exception. Several guest film companies postponed their productions as a result of border restrictions. Since that time, the Northwest Territories Film Commission has worked with stakeholders to look for innovative ways to support the industry with a focus on future development. For example, the film commission offered support through the territorial Creative Industries Economic Recovery Fund, providing $341,873 for both film- and arts-related projects. It supported Western Arctic Moving Pictures to present a virtual film production script-to-screen training series delivered by established Northwest Territories film producers at the 13th annual virtual Yellowknife International Film Festival. Members from the Professional Media Association received complimentary festival passes to attend the virtual 2020 Banff Media Festival and Whistler Film Festival and Summit and were also supported to deliver a virtual screenwriting workshop to its members, led by a professional screenwriter based in Los Angeles. As well, the Film Rebate Program, begun in 2015, has committed approximately $511,000 to 14 different productions, leveraging an additional $5 million in funding into the NWT. To date, the total direct Northwest Territories spend is approximately $5.5 million.
Supporting this sector is something that our government remains committed to, especially as we look to post-COVID-19 recovery. The film industry is an important driver of both economic activity and cultural development. According to the most recent 2019 report from the national Culture Satellite Account, film and associated activities contribute $9.27 million to the Northwest Territories' gross domestic product, $15.5 million to the Northwest Territories' economic output, and supports 58 jobs. Less tangibly but perhaps more important, home-grown films help tell and show stories of the land and people of the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Speaker, while we will still face challenges associated with the pandemic for the foreseeable future, we are also preparing for the easing of border and travel restrictions. The first Northwest Territories film strategy, Take One, was focused on growth, for in-territory productions and creating partnerships out of territory. Over the past 10 years, the film and media sector has grown substantially and is now in the position of leveraging partnerships toward greater projects and opportunities. Over the past year, the Let's Talk Film and Media campaign was launched to gather feedback on the next phase of film and media growth. We engaged community leaders, municipalities, and stakeholders across the North for their input.
The result is "Rolling, Action: The Next Five Years," the film and media sector strategy and action plan, currently being finalized for launch this spring. The focus to 2026 is continued growth with an emphasis on becoming nationally competitive and solidifying a sustainable industry in the Northwest Territories. The strategy and action plan will demonstrate our government's commitment to further develop the film and media sector, market and promote productions made in the NWT, attract commercial productions from outside the NWT, and build the capacity of the local industry and organizations. This is only a teaser. An announcement on the first initiative from the new strategy, will be made this spring.
Mr. Speaker, as we look to what we will do to support this sector, it is also important to recognize the achievements that have been made to this point. Last evening was a celebration marking the 10th formal year of the Northwest Territories film and media sector. The NWT Film Commission hosted what I note was a COVID-directive-compliant event with sector stakeholders from across the territory. To commemorate 10 years of film in the Northwest Territories, milestone awards were presented to some of the groups and partners that have helped to grow the film and media sector. Representatives from the Inuvialuit Communications Society, the Native Communications Society, the Northwest Territories Professional Media Association, Western Arctic Moving Pictures, and the Dead North Film Festival accepted awards for their contributions to northern film and media.
Of special note, I will highlight the work of Artless Collective's Pablo Saravanja and Jay Bulckaert on the Dead North Film Festival. Since 2012, this homegrown festival has encouraged hundreds of film teams of all ages and experience to participate. Over the last nine years, more than 220 films were produced and showcased at the festival. Some went beyond, to other festivals and screenings, with others leading to feature projects or earning a screen in world-renowned film festivals. The Northwest Territories Film Commission in the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment has been a supporter and sponsor of the festival from its outset. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
---Unanimous consent granted