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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With only two days notice, supporters of Wilmington’s film industry attracted thousands of people downtown to rally against possible changes in the state’s film incentives.

A bill, co-sponsored by two local lawmakers, Rep. Rick Catlin (R-20th District) and Rep. Chris Millis (R-16th District), has folks concerned about the future of the industry. It would stop the refundable portion of the state’s film tax credit, potentially pushing big productions like “Iron Man 3” away from Hollywood East.

“It would make sense that people who live in this community, that they should be able to plainly see the benefits of the film industry and the number of people who work in the film industry,” Screen Gems Executive Vice President Bill Vassar said.

Supporters say it is an industry that provides Wilmington with jobs and revenue, and a bill that would leave Wilmingtonians jobless.

“I’m a talent agent,” said Susan Walters of STW Talent. “I represent about 250 actors here in the Wilmington area. That is a lot of jobs that would be lost. Not to mention my own.”

Local leaders, including Rep. Ted Davis (R-19th District) and Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-9th District), were at the rally. They say it is important to educate those in Raleigh, and that they will keep fighting for the film industry.

Comment on this Story

  • adrian

    The credits are already paid out as cash. The state literally cuts a check. When the program was modified in 2009/10, the NC film office even advertised them as such: “cash”. Spend $1 million, the taxpayers handout $250,000 to a shell production company that doesn’t owe or pay income taxes in NC. And you thought it was bad already! ;)

  • guesty

    PPD headquarters have always been within the city limits of Wilmington. They started out on Front Street and have come back there. And as far as I know, both The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman are American formed companies that bought PPD and made it a private company.

  • Guestginger

    NC crew, cast, caterers, actors, restaurants, frame shops, lumber yards, paint stores, car rental agencies, florists, antique stores, fabric shops, hardware stores, hotels, etc. etc. were EMPLOYED AND MADE MONEY from the film industry. The film industry pays full sales tax as well as payroll tax and unemployment insurance. We local crew also pay income, sales, property tax as well.

    And you propose to tax them further rather than giving a 25% rebate on the tax they’ve already spent?

    “Our” people are not unemployed as long as the film productions continue to come in. When the area hosts 3-4 shows going on at a time, as it is now, I’d bet the local crew is experiencing full employment. In fact, we could really use a few more people in certain departments: carpenters, painters, set dressers, lighting electricians and grips are almost always in short supply when it’s busy in the Wilmington area.

    (Funny how you mention PPD. They received incentives from the county and city to relocate downtown. Soon afterwards, Fred Eshelman sold to a German company that laid off local workers. Did the city or county get any refund then?)

  • Vog46

    Permanent jobs are far better for NC then temporary ones are.
    With permanent jobs the accumulated income taxes collected far outweigh the incentives given over time.
    I also agree with a previous post you made that incentive supporters have done a terrible job showing or proving their economic impact point.

    But here is a thought for you. Everyone talks about how the movie industry impacts this area and the ballpark situation got me to researching this “multiplier affect” as used by IMPLAN which is the basis of all the economic impact statements made here and during the ballpark debate.
    If memory serves me correctly – the multipliers are only effectively used for permanent jobs.

    Supporters of incentives are using WAG’s as to the true impact that a film production would have on this area.
    And while it is a clean industry – that is not the debate here.
    Verizon is clean – PPD is clean – both received incentives from the city or county.
    But those two company’s have now caused MILLIONS of dollars in total revenues to go into city, county and state coffers from income, property and sales taxes paid by them and the employees working there, permanently living here, and shopping here.

    But the main source of profit for the film industry are royalties paid AFTER the movie has been made – which goes to into a very small number of “pockets” and typically does not include anyone here in NC.
    Their impact seems to be much smaller – but because it’s clean and because it’s considered artistic and because there might be a mega star possibly coming to the Port City from time to time we go all “gaga” over this industry.
    I harken back to a statement I made previously:
    “So the movie makers got what they wanted. They have succeeded in pitting NC against SC and before you know it we will be paying them, as opposed to reducing their taxes, to film here.”
    Add to NC and SC, CA, GA, and LS – and I would have to say the movie industry is extorting money from the states………


  • Vog46

    I toss this out as food for thought.
    If NC locations were used
    If NC peoples worked behind the scenes on lighting, set building etc etc etc.
    If NC people were used in lower echelon filming as extras……

    Why not charge the distributor of the film a tax on the profits as tax for NC?

    For incentives that imply permanency the state of NC continuously collects income taxes, and sales taxes on those incentive caused jobs well after the incentives were paid out.

    Here on the subject of film.
    We issue a tax credit after the $ are spent.

    Then the film goes on to make MILLIONS of dollars when they used our scenery, our technology, our people.
    Our people are now unemployed but the big name actors and the studios reap MILLIONS in profits off of us.
    It would seem only fair to charge a NC tax on profits derived from filming here, while using NC labor to do so. NC still collects revenues from Verizon and PPD employees ??????


  • SurfCityTom

    I’ve never been in favor of government incentives, whether tax credits or outright cash, by North Carolina. That’s especially true given the state’s current economic condition.

    But, if the elected officials are bound and determined to dole out state funds or tax credits, it makes more sense to do it for jobs which will be permanenet and not short term.

  • Vog46

    In a representative republic we can demonstrate here to show our representatives how we feel and they should vote accordingly.
    You seem to think that effort indicates tenacity – perhaps you are right – but given that speech is free and our government is set-up the way it is then it should follow that a demonstration at home is just as effective as demonstrating in Raleigh.
    Now, that being said – we hit the real crux of the problem – the tax credit causes a hit to the general fund through either out right payments or reduced revenue collection. This fund includes payroll taxes paid by all North Carolinians – sales taxes paid by all North Carolinians and so on.
    Do they want to see a portion of their tax dollars used to support an industry that does not affect 99% of them, their districts or their counties? How often has a movie been filmed in say, Tarheel? Or perhaps Cerro gordo?
    Incentives are troubling because they are handed out by politicians for the benefit of a specific company who’s impact is limited to a small area.
    On the grand scale SC is now talking about increasing the tax credit from 10% to 20% and reducing the corporate tax further.
    So the movie makers got what they wanted. They have succeeded in pitting NC against SC and before you know it we will be paying them, as opposed to reducing their taxes, to film here.

    McCrory and Legislature went down the slippery slope with MetLife now the film industry is piling on and other states are joining in.
    A very big and soon to be costly mistake IMHO


  • Guestmarvin

    It’s very easy to tell the informed commenters vs. the uninformed ones on this issue.

    Fortunately, the Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis has relegated this pitiful bill to the Rules Committee where it will simply wither away. The best thing that has occurred because of Reps. Catlin’s and Millis’s attempt to kill the film incentives is that our community of crew, business owners and political leaders have formed a cohesive unit that knows how beneficial the film industry is to the state’s economy, and WILL defeat any move to drive it to another state.

    Those that hate the film industry so much might want to ponder living with Titan Cement and mercury poisoning as an alternative to the clean, well-paying jobs film/TV bring to the area.

  • Guest2020

    I don’t know how fair the assumption is that they go on unemployment between jobs. The people I know in the industry budget their money and make out fine on what they make.

  • GuestO’Day

    Justin, my curiosity is piqued. Where did you find the incentives to be a billion (that’s a thousand million) dollars and 1,000 jobs published?

  • SurfCityTom

    in Wilmington?

    The legislature is in Raleigh. The vote will be taken in Raleigh.

    That’s where an organized rally should be held. Of course, that would require supporters to drive 2 hours up I-40 and 2 hours back.

  • Erlkoenig

    Instead of subsidizing the film industry with my money, let me keep it. Then, I’ll spend it on the movies I like.

  • justin

    A billion in incentives for less than 1000 transient jobs? All for film industry folks who go on unemployment between film productions? Ya’know, I want to understand it, but I just can’t wrap my head around it…

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