Six months into 2022, the NC Film Office has revealed economic impacts the industry has brought into the state so far. Though currently a third less than totals from 2021’s record-breaking year, the office’s director, Guy Gaster, said in a release officials expect 2022 to continue the same momentum.
Five film and TV projects so far this year account for $107 million of in-state spending and have created 4,900 jobs. However, those numbers do not account for all productions in the state.
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All of North Carolina benefited from $416 million in 2021, with Wilmington contributing over $300 million. Though 2022 has been slower, executive director of Wilmington Film Commission Johnny Griffin told Port City Daily last month the industry benefits from large-paying projects, so numbers can escalate quickly.
“We don’t add up productions $5 million at a time. We get a TV series, there’s $50 million,” he said. “We’re still having a very good year historically.
North Carolina legislation has in place a 25% rebate for films and television series and pays out up to $31 million annually. Project caps include:
- $15 million per season for television series, with a minimum spend of $500,000
- $7 million for feature-length films and made-for-TV movies, with a minimum spend of $1.5 million for feature-length films and $500,000 for made-for-TV movies
- $250,000 for commercials, with the same minimum spend
Companies that bring productions to the state do not receive money up front and also must meet in-state spending requirements, including hiring — in part, local labor. Grant money is paid after a successful audit of each production, as administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce and promoted by the North Carolina Film Office.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to get the film industry going again in North Carolina and we’re succeeding,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release.
Cooper is referring to the last decade of building up the state’s incentive, which sunset in 2014. Previous legislation offered projects a 25% return on investment, with an in-state spending requirement of $250,000 and the maximum credit of $20 million per project. By 2015, legislators voted on a scaled-back, grant-based incentive, which at first was capped at $10 million a year for all projects but has since been extended to $31 million.
Many productions benefitting from the state’s stimulus offer have set up in the greater Cape Fear region this year, including “Problem with Providence.” Having recently wrapped in Southport, the indie film was approved for a $1.75-million rebate.
The dark comedy stars Lily James and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and follows the “unexpected consequences that arise when a veteran police officer tries to cover up a mistake made by their rookie trainee,” according to a release. The project also stars Joey Lauren Adams (“Chasing Amy”), stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan and Himesh Patel (“Yesterday”) as part of the 24-person cast.
Filming locations included Southport Ace Hardware, Edgewater 122, Potter’s Seafood, Riverside Motel, Bald Head Island Ferry, Southport Ferry Terminal, Mullett Bar and the city pier.
STARZ’s “Hightown” has returned to EUE/Screen Gems Studios for season three — it moved from Massachusetts to Wilmington at the beginning of filming season two. So far, film permits indicate it has filmed at downtown’s 6th Street bridge (dubbed the “One Tree Hill” bridge), Rose Ice on Market Street and St. Mary’s on 5th Avenue. A Lionsgate production, the series will be awarded $10 million in rebates.
Amazon’s number one streaming series last week, “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” also has begun filming season two in the Wilmington area. Season one spent five months turning the Cape Fear beaches, primarily Carolina, into Cousins Beach. According to Griffin approximately 150 local crew members helped with the production.
Recent permits show the story’s continuation will feature backdrops like Double Happiness and Mayfaire shopping center. Hailing from wiip productions, in association with Amazon Studios, the new season was approved for a grant award of $13.6 million.
“George and Tammy” also filmed in Wilmington in fall 2021 and wrapped by early spring. It has added to the bottom line of 2022’s impact but by how much is unclear at this time.
Other productions are set up across the state, including a modern-day Frankenstein tale and feature-length, “AGB and Her Monster.” It recently has production offices in Charlotte and will receive a $600,000 rebate. A Hallmark feature, “To Her With Love,” also will film in Mecklenburg and Rowan counties and is approved for $975,000 in grants.
The state also has welcomed a country music-inspired feature “Something Here,” a comedy “The Other Zoey,” travel shows and local feature films, including “A Little Prayer” and “A Song for Imogene,” and the new reality series, “Austin Dillon’s Life in the Fast Lane.” The state film office did not indicate rebate numbers of these projects at this time.
“Our industry continues to grow and we expect 2022 to be another successful year,” Gaster said in the release, “resulting in well-paying job opportunities for film professionals in our state as well as millions of dollars being spent with local businesses and suppliers.”
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