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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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It's Good for Wilmington

The increased tax incentives to bring new film/tv work to the area are easily made up for when those productions actually commit to filming here. The revenue that those productions generate is HUGE. One Tree Hill, for example, spends at least 2 million dollars an episode, and typically shoots 22 episodes a year (for the last 6 1/2 years). That 2 million dollars only represents the revenue that can actually be counted. There is so much more money that comes from other aspects such as the tourism $ generated by fans who flock to the town continuously to see the locations and actors. And this is just a relatively small TV production. Big budget films bring in even more. The tax-incentives are necessary to get them here. There's no denying that this is good business for Wilmington and North Carolina. If you think this is so wrong economically, why do you think South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and others have passed more aggressive tax incentives. They understand that the incentives will be easily repaid once they nab the productions. It's high time North Carolina became competitive.

Over one-quarter BILLION?

$2 million x 22 = $44 million per season. $44 million x 6.5 seasons = $286 million What's the source of that nonsensical figure?

250 million equals one

250 million equals one quarter billion, a billion being a thousand million in common usage... Let's add math teachers to the "wish list" :)

He said over 1/4 billion

OVER Looks like we need teachers to teach reading comprehension more.

You missed the point

I think he is saying the claim that One Tree Hill has put 1/4 of a billion in the local economy is a made up number. If it is true, it would be nice to know where all that money went.

Tax-free filming would be better

Why doesn't North Carolina simply amend the law to say that any film production gets a 100% tax break? Heck! Why don't we pay THEM to film here? Sure....the state is broke....we're cutting health programs.....closing half-way houses.....postponing road construction..... ...but how can you place a price on seeing Kim Bassinger in her all black sweats (complete with black baseball cap) and dark sunglasses at Harris Teeter...in July....? ("I will dress like a complete weirdo so you don't notice me!") What you gnats don't understand is that if the production companies stop filming in Wilmington, hundreds of studio workers will have to get REAL jobs instead of serving bottled water to Brad Pitt for a few weeks and then collecting unemployment for six months. I, for example, am an artist. I paint backdrops and scenery. You expect me to paint houses for a living? What part of "I am an artist" confuses you? All I know is that we need to show those other states playing tax-incentive poker that we are not a punk, and give these production companies millions more. Can't we fire a few hundred cops and nurses to give the production companies a break?

we know we paid for it

the local film industry ought to be in good shape, all of us taxpayers have been giving them incentives to stay since the moved here .after 20 years they should be able to support, themselves or get out

If the incentives go away,

If the incentives go away, so do the new productions. Every new film or TV series that films here is basically a new business. They make the choice of where to film based on several factors, like available studios, locations, or crew, and incentives offered. The local "film industry" is not one business like a factory. It's a lot of individual businesses paying Screen Gems and our local production crews to come here to do their projects.

Right to Work State? Think again!

Speaking as someone who works sporadically in the film industry I say this is great news. But if I may,I would also like to add that specifically I would like to call out the practice of union workers of IATSE in this town who frequently edge out non-union workers from jobs by forming cliques that keep the same bunch of people working on almost every major production that comes to town by monopolizing the production offices. I have first hand knowledge and experience with this happening and it is something that is disgustingly overlooked and/or ignored. Those of us who try to do something about it are blackballed,which doesn't make a difference because we are kept off productions anyway by the same few who are able to get on them and get in positions of power in the hiring spots, and refuse to hire anyone outside their cliques and aren't in the union. Those who either because they could not get in as yet or chose not to be in,can forget about working on anything that comes to the studio. So much for being a right to work state if the union workers just take over anyway. So while I am happy about all that is going on,for those of us not "dialed in" none of this will make much of a difference. Don't believe me? Look on IMDB.com and look at the crew listings for most of the major productions that have come through for the past several years. Same bunches of people,and if you think it is because those are the only talented crew that deserve the work and that's why they get all those jobs,then you are sorely mistaken. Truth is best...there are WAY more talented crew than are being hired on these productions,and it's time people knew why.

Sounds like a crappy industry to work in...

just like Hollywood. I used to know some bit actors, production wannabe's trying to get in, etc. in Hollywood and it was very cut-throat. The Hollywood Industry left Wisconsin (or was it Iowa?) high and dry and lots of people holding the bag (who moved out from Hollywood) when the next desperate state lowered their incentive. NC is better off without those ho's who'll be off to where the grass is greener before long anyways... Good riddance!