Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Greater Wilmington Business Journal

2010 looks promising for local film industry
January 22, 2010By Ken Little

Good company: 2010 will bring more film projects to Wilmington.-->
The groundwork for a successful 2010 in the local motion-picture industry was actually laid in 2009, several people close to the industry said.
Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the benefits of developments like the 25 percent state tax credit for filmmakers, which became law earlier this month.
Stage 10 on the lot of the EUE Screen Gems studio, with its technologically advanced water tank and other features attractive to big-budget filmmakers, will also pay dividends this year, officials said.
“We expect 2010 to be a good year. The missing piece of the puzzle for the region was the film incentive. We are being told by our clients that Wilmington is now a place that financially makes sense for them to do business,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.
By 2009, the 15 percent tax credit offered by North Carolina to filmmakers was overshadowed by more substantial credits in states like Michigan, Louisiana and Georgia. With its large base of filmmaking professionals and the 25 percent credit, North Carolina is competitive again and receiving close scrutiny from producers, despite the challenged national economy.
“They just have to find the right projects to send here,” Griffin said. “So far, the economy does not seem to be affecting film production. There are still lots of screens and lots of channels which need programming.”
Bill Vassar, EUE Screen Gems executive vice president, agreed that North Carolina and the Wilmington area in particular are again prominent on the radar screens of Hollywood producers.
“Things look good for the film industry in 2010 in North Carolina. The reason is we have the locations, we have the crews, we have the facilities and adding the incentive completes the package,” he said. “By adding in the tax incentive it makes us very attractive. Most of the producers in L.A. consider us in the top five (location choices).”
As of mid-January, Vassar said Wilmington was under serious consideration as a filming location for at least two “good-size” productions.
“We’re suited for many, many different kinds of locations. We have many different (production) facilities and most importantly, we have the third-largest amount of crew living here outside of New York and Los Angeles,” he said.
The film industry has already made adjustments to reflect the recession economy, Vassar said, and is prepared to go forward with projects.
“They’re making fewer films but they’re spending more on the ones they make,” he said. “They’re being more selective.”
Vassar said employment in the local film industry should remain stable in the coming year. Griffin has a similar view.

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