Film-Friendly North Carolina

Ken AshfordLocal InterestLeave a Comment

They like us!  They really like us!

From the Hollywood Reporter:

By the early 1990s, North Carolina had become the No. 3 production center in the U.S., behind California and New York, with a steady stream of productions flowing into the state — including such high-profile features as "The Color Purple," "Dirty Dancing, "Bull Durham," "The Last of the Mohicans" and "The Fugitive" and numerous movies of the week. They were drawn by the studio facilities and the relatively inexpensive (it's a right to work state) crew, as well as the mild weather and a diverse topography capable of standing in for the Northeast, the Deep South, the Midwest and the West Coast.

But almost as quickly as the state came charging on to the scene, it began to fade as Canada lured away productions with increasingly generous subsidies and the big networks virtually abandoned the movie of the week. Production revenue fell from a high of $504 million in 1993 to $230.8 million in 2002.

When the tax credit was raised to 15% in 2007, production spending in North Carolina shot up 60%. Then Georgia and Michigan passed new incentives, along with South Carolina, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and the state was back on the ropes again.

"They all just leapfrogged us and we just saw our market share dissipate," says Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office. "The thing about North Carolina is we've always had an infrastructure here that people can call on. Now with those more competitive incentives around, we're seeing our crew base leave and follow those jobs. I'm sure they want to be home, but they have to make a living."

The NC House has passed a bill raising the incentives to 25%, and Dream Stage 10 — the third-largest film and television production stage in the country — opened for business last month.