Cooper creates advisory council to grow NC film industry

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced the creation of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Film, Television and Digital Streaming in effort to continue growing North Carolina’s film industry.

“The industry is changing with streaming now and with digital,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “With all of the opportunities that are there, we want to be at the cutting edge of places where they would want to come and to produce all of these.”

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Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 111 to create the council at Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington.

“As we are beginning our big push to see film rebound in North Carolina having this council together with all of those people who can help me with strategy, but can also be ambassadors all over the place for film in North Carolina is a positive step,” Cooper said.

He was joined by Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary and Council Chair Susi Hamilton, Screen Gems Executive Vice President Bill Vassar, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, newly named members of the film council, and local individuals employed in the film industry.



Hamilton says the governor has selected 23 people for the council and they plan to have their first meeting before the first of the year.

“North Carolina’s natural beauty, welcoming communities, and local talent make it a perfect home for the film industry,” said Cooper. “This advisory council will play a critical role in helping the industry flourish, which creates good-paying jobs right here in North Carolina.”

“North Carolina’s bourgeoning film industry already has created many jobs and expanded opportunities for companies to invest in our state,” said Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary and Council Chair Susi Hamilton. “Gov. Cooper’s decision to create this council will greatly aid efforts to expand this industry and help North Carolina continue to prosper.”

Cooper was joined by Sabrina Davis, a local business owner who spoke about the importance of a thriving film industry for North Carolina’s economy.

“From 2010 through 2012, when our bread and butter business–serving commercial construction and commercial real estate–was suffering considerably due to the lengthy recession I was so grateful that the film industry was booming. It got us through what could have been disastrously lean times,” said Sabrina Davis, owner of Port City Signs and Graphics. “An investment in the film industry is not an investment in the Wilmington area or the Asheville area or any of the other popular shoot locations, it is an investment in North Carolina and the small businesses here. And small businesses help drive the economy and employ our North Carolina residents.”

Cooper says film job opportunities in 2019 are up to 10,976 after dropping off over the last several years. Production spending has also increased and stands at $165 million so far in 2019.

In his 2019 budget, Cooper pushed for dropping minimum spend requirements for feature-length films and raising per projects caps for films and TV series.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall was present to attest to the Executive Order.

The Council will advise Cooper on efforts to grow and develop North Carolina’s film industry and support the work of the State Film Office.

An initial list of council members have been named and are as follows: Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton, Dr. Amy Tiemann, Beth Petty, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, Bill Vassar, Chris Cooney, Chip Hackler, Dale Williams, Darla McGlamery, David Burris, Eric Johnson, Herman A. Stone, John Bankson, Johnny Griffin, Judy Girard, Lana Garland, Lauren Vilchik, Mike McGaha, Rebecca Clark, Robert Newton, Tim Bourne, and Tod Thorne. Additional members may be added.