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The Daily Tar Heel

NC film incentive replaced with $10 million grant

“(The expiration of the current incentives) has kind of brought things to a halt,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.

“We are one of the top destinations in the country,” he said. “But with the incentive ending, that sort of takes us off the map.”

According to the North Carolina Film Office, during the first six months of 2014, 40 productions filmed or were planning to film in the state, spending an estimated $268 million and creating 19,000 job opportunities.

But with competitive tax incentives in states like Georgia and Louisiana, that source of money and jobs could be headed elsewhere.

Rick Eldridge, CEO of Charlotte-based ReelWorks Studios, which hires hundreds of workers during productions, said legislators may be looking to add to the $10 million fund. But the uncertainty could lead him to move projects elsewhere.

The motive behind amending the incentive structure was making an affordable program that supports long-term industry growth, said Kim Genardo, director of strategic and economic development communications for the N.C. Department of Commerce.

But with only $10 million in the fund, Griffin said the money may not sustain film success in the state.

About 2,000 people work in the film industry in the Wilmington area, Griffin said, and, without a steady supply of productions, some may have to move elsewhere to find jobs.

Producers in the state are likely to focus more on smaller films, which typically fall in the $20 to $30 million range for total cost.

“I have worked in Los Angeles and Florida, and I came back to North Carolina,” Eldridge said.

“I think there is a lot to offer there, and it is my desire that we can continue to work and build an industry here, which has gotten very strong over the past several years, and I’d hate to see that abandoned.”

state@dailytarheel.com

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