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Local film industry is strong, says film leaders

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Some of the most important leaders in North Carolina's film business gathered at Thalian Hall Thursday night to discuss the state of the industry. Despite admitted challenges that lie ahead, the panel of elected leaders and film industry leaders said the state of the industry in North Carolina is strong. "You had eight of the most influential people in the film industry sitting together for an hour, chatting about what they do everyday. And that's really a special moment," said Cucalorus Film Festival director Dan Brawley. The Cucalorus Film Festival has brought independent film makers together in Wilmington for 15 years. This year, there may be a bit more buzz about what's on the horizon. "There are a lot of people who anticipate that this year will be a bit more of a renaissance,” added Brawley. Come January 1st, the state's new tax incentives will go in to effect, raising film tax credits from 15 to 25 percent on North Carolina productions. Johnnie Griffin of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission said, "We're already starting to see a lot of positive feedback and a lot of results, hopefully a lot of productions coming in at the first of the year.” The key there being jobs; putting folks back to work when productions may have gone to other states who offer better tax breaks. But even with anticipation brewing, remaining competitive in a tough market place is a challenge facing the film industry. "It's not all of a sudden the jobs over, because there's also eight other states with better incentives than ours,” said North Carolina Film Office director Aaron Syrett. “So it's back to marketing North Carolina as North Carolina, we just have another arrow in our quiver to let them know that we can bring those costs down." Griffin added, "We very closely have to monitor our competition, what they're doing, the changes within the industry, the technology, the way that's effecting things." Overall, the panel agreed that the state of the industry here in North Carolina is strong. What's more, events like Cucalorus, and these discussions help make these individuals involved in film, into a film community. The Cucalorus Film Festival runs through Sunday.

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