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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -– Film is one of North Carolina’s largest industries, but could the production soon wrap without help from Raleigh?

Over the last twenty years Wilmington has earned the moniker of Hollywood East, but the changing political landscape has some productions staying in the Hollywood hills.

“The landscape has changed,” said Dan Brawley, the executive director of the Cucalorus Film Festival. “The incentives race has really created an intense competition to draw productions to different parts of the country. Wilmington is just one of many places where filmmakers can take a project.”

With North Carolina’s film incentives scheduled to run out in January 2015 there are questions about whether the republican-led state legislature will pass another set of incentives to keep drawing films to the Tar Heel state.

“Throw your political philosophies aside,” said Brawley. “If we want to be a production location and if we want to remain competitive in the industry then we have to have a really solid tax program to encourage productions to come to Wilmington.”

“What we need to talk about is jobs and the spending it creates in the state,” said Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office. “It’s all new money and that’s economic development at its core with outside money coming into our communities.”

Jobs that some say are key in an economy that is already struggling.

“Without the incentives the movies won’t come here,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean of the University North Carolina School of the Arts. “Without the movies coming here our students won’t have the opportunities that they’re having now, not just for internships, but for entry level jobs. There for they’re going to have to leave the state to do it and my fear is if they leave the state to do it they’re not coming back.”

The “State of the Slate” panel at the Cucalorus Film Festival is encouraging everyone to contact their local legislators and express how the film industry and the jobs it creates are to the Tar Heel State.

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15 Comments on "NC film industry leaders discuss ‘State of the Slate’"

2015 years 10 months ago

One mistake, so many people make, including some of the committee and department staff in Raleigh who are tasked with “costing” legislation, is if the Film Industry went away, if it was gone tomorrow, 100% gone, there would be the pool of money left, available for, well… anything. From paying teachers and police, to fighting poverty and housing reform. Or maybe beach re-nourishment or maybe building a new stadium. It doesn’t really matter how you want to spend this money. Because it just doesn’t exist.

The Film Tax Incentives are “post performance” incentives. If the studios don’t come to NC and spend money first, hiring crew, renting stages or buildings, buying lumber and paint, there is no money paid out as an incentive.

Think of it this way. You have a choice as to what grocery store you go to. You spend some time and research your options. You choose the grocery down the street because they have a good deal. You go, you spend $100. You pay for your groceries. You go home. You take your receipt and you mail it in to the grocery store for a rebate. They rebate you 25% and send you a check for $25. If you don’t go to the store, and don’t spend the money, there is no “$25 rebate.” It’s the same with the film tax incentives. If they don’t come and spend money, there is no rebate. There is no “pool of money” just waiting to become a rebate.

The misconception, that the choice to the state is, spend money on hollywood or spend money on something else we think is more important, this is a false choice. The real choice is, do you want hollywood to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in North Carolina, employing thousands of our neighbors and friends, or do we want hollywood to spend that money is Georgia or Louisiana?

The choice is clear.

2015 years 10 months ago

with fixed revenue and increasing outlays, can you say “repay the Medicaid borrowing”, where does the state allocate remaining funds?

Movie incentives with limited and questionable impact?


Education including teacher salaries?

You posters seem to know so much; where would you use the leftover funds?

And when you start throwing stones, be certain to direct them at Easley and Smiley. They are the ones who authorized the borrowing.

2015 years 10 months ago

The misconception is on you.
Take your grocery store example
You spend $100 their profit margin is 4% (like the state tax is on food) then they pay out $25 in a rebate check.
Get it now? The grocery store goes broke because they pay out more than they take in. That’s the film incentive.

Another of your misconceptions:
“employing thousands of our neighbors and friends”
Would You please do some research using SIC and NAICs codes and DES info and LOOK at employment levels for film and movie productions.
They employ LESS then 1000 people state wide.
The last round of incentives in 2001 created 55 jobs after the state paid out $31 MILLION dollars. That’s half a million per job.
The film incentives are NOT worth it and cost the state loads of money.
The tax “rebate” is a payout of 25% of pretax expenditures
And the money they pay out are out hard earned tax dollars that we paid into the state.

You are a fool for believing the fodder the industry is feeding you – READ THE BILL…………


2015 years 10 months ago

Hollywood accounting refers to the opaque and deceitful accounting methods used by the film, video and television industry to budget and record profits for film projects.

Expenditures can be inflated to reduce or eliminate the reported profit of the project, thereby reducing the amount which the corporation must pay in royalties or other profit-sharing agreements, as these are based on the net profit.

Due to Hollywood accounting, it has been estimated that only about 5% of movies officially show a net profit, and the “losers” include such blockbuster films as Rain Man, Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Batman, which all took in huge amounts in box office and video sales.

Hollywood film companies are as sleazy in their corrupt accounting procedures as Hollywood Boulevard itself.

North Carolina legislators are fools to keep subsidizing the flimflam film companies that come into the state and stay about two hot minutes, making virtually no impact on local economies.

Jobs? Don’t fall for this ballyhoo.

Edward Cam
2015 years 10 months ago

North Carolina taxpayers are being forced to shovel money to Hollywood studios via various local “incentive” programs to try to convince the studios to film their movies in various locations around the state.

The studios continually argue that these programs create jobs, jobs, jobs. However, as the NY Times investigation of tax incentive film projects around the nation pointed out, those “jobs” really don’t seem to be appearing. Instead, film crews ship in a crew from LA or NY and hire just a couple of locals for low-level jobs… which last a few months and that’s it. The impact on the local economy appears to be minimal.

And, basically, the studios just keep asking for more money playing different locations off of one another.

Hollywood Tax Incentives is an Outrageous Tax Rip-off that should be stopped immediately.

The “create jobs” mantra is a lie. Time to say good-bye to Hollywood.

2015 years 10 months ago

Movie incentives don’t pan out as a driver of job creation:

Movie incentives have also shown to be not worth it in other states as well:

The state needs to STOP film incentives and concentrate on creating a tax atmosphere that will attract different businesses to this state. They should NOT pick and choose a particular industry to help out…


2015 years 10 months ago

Vog, we totally agree. Is the end nigh?

2015 years 10 months ago

The movie folks seem to be pulling this incentive scam in just about every state in the country. If it wasn’t for government and bureaucrats would we have an “industry” that specializes in make believe or is this ” industry” an extension of the government with all rights and privileges included therein. Must be the latter cause they don’t have to produce winners to qualify for the government welfare…….just show up with a camera and their hand out…………if not this state then the next one down the road or the next one or…….well you get the idea.

2015 years 10 months ago

Prezbo has been in the game of picking winners and losers with “stimulus” money…and picked all losers. :)

Shaun O'Rourke
2015 years 10 months ago

The math is just wrong. The study that states there was only 55 jobs created is to kill the incentive.

Each Film or TV that comes to town has a locally hired crew of about 175 to 300 crew members.

When you have the TV series by CBS “Under The Dome”, FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow”, Showtimes’s”Homeland”, and the Cinemax show “Banshee” all filming that is closer to 800 jobs.

Not to mention the feature films.

If you don’t want something you come up with false reasons to get rid of it.

2015 years 10 months ago

Just call the study wrong and you expect us to believe YOU?
Of course you can’t refute the numerous other studies that show 20 states have now determined that film incentives don’t pay.
Sorry Shaun….


2015 years 10 months ago

Simple scenario: A production spends $100 million in NC. AFTER thorough auditing by the state, they get 25% return on goods, services, payroll spent with NC businesses and crew.

NC still gets $75 million!!! Should be simple to get. We are NOT doing the same as Georgia and Louisiana, who sell their film tax credits.

IF they don’t come at all…there is nothing, zero, nada, zilch jobs, profits, income, taxes in NC. In fact, many crew will be on unemployment and businesses may close. It’s lose/lose for citizens and businesses.

A piece of any story can be a horror or pure bliss. When good folks talk about giving away tax money to special interests, they carefully ignore a big part of the picture.

Film incentives are easy targets, but that “give back” means much more than it seems. What is NEVER mentioned is INVESTMENT made in this state’s economy by people who work in film and whose homes and families are in North Carolina. They buy land and build homes, pay taxes on homes, cars trucks, equipment. Even when working a film out of state, their wages come right back to their home state. And there are thousands of highly skilled professionals in that work force.
Much of the criticism is based on foolishness, part of which is corporate interests which don’t want any upward pressure on wages for working people. It makes no sense to build an economy on minimum wage jobs, contract and temporary workers without any benefits and subject to layoffs any time for no reason.That may be good for giant franchise operations, but is very bad for the economy of this lovely state.

2015 years 10 months ago

I have to assume you are a a piad shill for the movie industry. You said:
“They buy land and build homes, pay taxes on homes, cars trucks, equipment. Even when working a film out of state, their wages come right back to their home state. And there are thousands of highly skilled professionals in that work force.”
First – acordding to the NC ESC there are only about 700 to 800 people employed full time by the movie industry here. There are local TV news stations that employ thousands but that is a different SIC/NAICS code occupation.
And even state government knows that film incentives did not create thousands of jobs:

Open your eyes. On 2011 there were 55 jobs created when the state Paid out $30M in incentives. That is half million dollars per job created.
It is a blatant give away to out or state corporations that should stop.
Now if it were a rebate of taxes paid it would be worth it but its not. the payout is based upon pretax spending.

One more question to ask yourself.
Movies were filmed here BEFORE incentives. Why should We pay for them to film here now – based upon the abysmal return on investment?


2015 years 10 months ago

Why isn’t my industry incentivized? The film industry is hip and therefore gets this sort of attention and government cheese. And if the money is confiscated from me first then transferred to you, its not an investment.

2015 years 10 months ago

If a production spends $100 million and the state cuts a $25 million check, the “state” does not itself get the remaining $75 million. The spending is in the economy for things like wages. And sure wages are taxed….but unless the state income tax is 25%, then the program does not come close to breaking even.

Perhaps the money spent on the incentive would be better used in math courses?


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