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What makes a filmmaker pick Wilmington?

WILMINGTON -- Every now and then, you'll hear about a new production coming to Wilmington, whether it's a television pilot, a feature film or an independent film. But what makes a filmmaker choose Wilmington over other locations? In this Cape Fear 2020 report we look at what it takes for producers to select Wilmington and if we can continue to bring in the projects. When producers decide to make a feature film or a television series there are several steps involved. Johnny Griffin with the Wilmington Regional Film Commission said, "They'll get financing for a project, actors attached to a project, directors attached to a project then the next question is: where are we going to make the project?" That's where the film commission comes in. If Wilmington makes the list of choices they contact Griffin. His job, in a sense, is to "sell" our city and surrounding area. "Try and educate them on things they may not know about our region and help them determine how our project could be a good fit within our community," Griffin said. Producers also look at geography. Some stories are set in "anytown," USA where you don't know where they're located. Some might need scenes shot on a beach, or a historic downtown area. Lisa Mae Fincannon with Fincannon and Associates Casting said, "Every time I drive over that bridge the beauty of this city is overwhelming to me, and I do that everyday, two or three times a day. I never get tired of looking at it, so I can only imagine what it looks like to the outside eye." Then come the technical questions. Griffin said, "Is your community set up for making movies? Do you have crews? Do you have sound stages? Do you have equipment? Do you have tax incentives? Is it a film-friendly community, where if a company comes in, the community understands what it means?" Wilmington can answer "yes" to all those. But will our appeal hold out during the next ten to 12 years? Bill Vassar with Screen Gems Studios believes we will see more growth. If the business is here Screen Gems is ready to grow with it. Vassar said, "I think you will possibly see the industry expand here. A couple of years ago we bought 12 more acres and we have another seven or eight acres we can possibly expand on, so if need be and if the business is there, we'll definitely expand." Thursday night in our final Cape Fear 2020 look at the local film industry, we'll look ahead to what the future could hold for us.

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