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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Good, but maybe not good enough. North Carolina film incentives are coming up short compared to other states, even after the state legislature voted to improve them. For production crews, the new legislation is bittersweet. While it gives us better incentives than we had before, it still doesn’t put us in the same league as states like Georgia and Louisiana.

Josh Ellsworth builds movie sets but typically has to leave Hollywood East to do it.

“I’ve been working out of state for the last two and a half years. There just isn’t any work here other than ‘One Tree Hill’ and now ‘Bolden!'” Ellsworth said. He said the new incentives won’t help him or other crew members in the Port City very much. “We’ve built up a crew base that is arguably the best outside of Los Angeles, but without the continued amount of work, they just can’t stay here. We’ve got the facility. We’ve got the people. We just need a competitive incentive.”

Legislators increased the amount of incentives a single production can get from $7.5 million to $20 million. Producer Tim Bourne, who lives in Wilmington but spends most of his time working in other places, says that increase is not going to do North Carolina any good, because lawmakers kept the $1 million cap on salaries.

“We’re not going to get the big projects that we were out for,” Bourne said. “When Gov. Perdue went to California, she heard what was going to be needed, and we fell short of that goal.”

Bourne says the cap is going to hurt people like Ellsworth the most.

“Unfortunately there’s this misconception that this money is going to line the pockets of Hollywood bigwigs,” Bourne said. Who suffers in this right now is your everyday technician; the people who live and pay taxes in North Carolina. They’re going to have to go elsewhere for the larger shows.”

Wilmington Regional Film Commission Director Johnny Griffin says the salary cap should not keep TV productions from coming here.

“We’ve got to sort of find the market that our incentive will apply to. Part of that is television. Part of that is small-budget films,” Griffin said.

Gov. Perdue still has to sign the new legislation, and it likely won’t go into effect until next year. In a separate bill, legislators also got rid of the 6.9 percent tax film companies had to pay on the incentives.

Comment on this Story

  • makes me wonder what the hooplah is all about. If the movies are made out of state and the local crews go there to work, don’t they “send money home” like the illegal immigrants do here? The only difference is the film crews have bank accounts and send a check instead of using Western Union…and the money stays here to be spent.

  • SurfCityTom

    do the bill properly; create a package which will draw the “big” projects in and the Governor loses a reason to hop the state jet and go Hollywood.

    You want to get this done right? Find some way she can stay on the move and get those travel perks she fought for.

    Isn’t it about time for another vacation or foriegn trip to promote NC?

  • Stormy Weather

    Government should not be spreading around taxpayer money to favorite industries. The business climate for ALL should be improved by lowering taxes, promoting education, and reducing crime.

    If the argument is to made that the NC film industry can only survive by paying bribes, excuse me, “incentives”, then the money should come from the film industry via a surtax on movie tickets. Let the consumers (customers) pay for the incentives. The funds should not come from all taxpayers for the benefit of a few.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    What was it I predicted last week – a year? Two?

    It’s been less than a week and they’re griping!

  • ILM Film Supporter

    It is unfortunate that the incentives didn’t pass as first proposed. Keeping the cap will prevent larger projects from filming here. The problem with that is larger productions… bigger bucks for the local economy. The purpose of HB 1973 was to keep NC competitive, and it seems we have not accomplished what the bill was named for. If we can not compete with GA or LA then we will continue to play second fiddle. The progress made is just that… progress. It doesn’t actually accomplish any goal of making NC a front runner for a preferred filming destination.

    As I openly support having a film industry in NC, and endorse it’s need for incentives. I can’t help but feel the individuals involved with handling the task of structuring the incentives have failed miserably. It should not take Gov. Perdue, and twenty of her closest friends flying to LA to find out we are not competitive. What should have happened is this…

    1.) State, and Local film commissioners fly to LA (Last YR) with the 15% tax incentive.

    2.) State, and Local film commissioners meet with studio executives and discuss the 15% tax incentives that were in place last year, and further discuss what would make us competitive.

    3.) State, and Local film commissioners fly back to NC with the knowledge of where we are in competitiveness, and where studio executives say we need to be.

    4.) State, and Local film commissioners along with the NC film council pitch the upgrades to he House Representatives that will draft the bill (With all needed upgrades to make NC competitive)

    5.) Have the bill go through the legislative process.

    If the key people involved would have done a thorough job we would not be in the situation we find ourselves in now. The more exposure this issue gets in the state legislature the more it looks like the film industry is trying to take more… To get it right the first time would have prevented a lot of talk, flights to LA, time, and effort. I am not a fan of re-work, I was raised to get it right the first time. I suggest the leadership of the state film industry take my advice on this matter for next time. FILM IN NC!!!

  • Guest461

    Give away, give away, give away. Give them an inch and they want a mile. As the state is already giving away over 250 million dollars in tax revenue, I don’t want them reaching into my pocket for more. I already got slapped with an additional “surcharge” on my state income taxes this year as it is.

    Sorry, the movie industry is getting a great deal. We can’t just give everything away so the cameras will roll here is NC. If they don’t like what we have to offer, go to Georgia. The technicians can follow. You just have to go where the work is.


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