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Even improved film incentives may fall short

READ MORE: Even improved film incentives may fall short
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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.

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