WILMINGTON — The North Carolina Department of Commerce released numbers Thursday on five more television and film projects approved to receive funds from the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grants. Two are currently rolling in Wilmington.
The five productions are anticipated to employ 2,400 people and bring $61 million into the state’s economy. Of that, roughly $28 million will be funneled into Wilmington on two productions that just got off the ground and are slated to receive $7 million in rebates.
The TV series “Welcome to Flatch” began filming in Burgaw last week. The mockumentary series is a spinoff on BBC’s “This Country” and follows a group of eccentric townsfolk through their daily lives in rural Midwest America. It stars Seann William Scott (“American Pie”), Aya Cash (“You’re The Worst”), Taylor Ortega (“Succession”) and others, with the announcement last week of Jamie Pressly (“My Name is Earl,” “Mom”) joining season two.
The show has been approved for a $6.5-million grant rebate, making its budget around $26 million. Wilmington Film Commission director Johnny Griffin said there are approximately 200 local crew working on “Flatch,” as it moves between locations in Duplin, New Hanover and Pender counties.
Filming will continue through October, and the first episode of the new season is scheduled to air on FOX Sept. 29.
A small independent film, “Eric LaRue,” also began rolling in town this week. Marking the directorial debut of Michael Shannon (“Bullet Train,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Revolutionary Road”), the film is based on the play of the same name, written by Brett Neveu in 2002 in response to the Columbine High School shootings.
“Eric LaRue” centers on a mother, Janice, who is coping with mass school violence committed by her now-imprisoned teenage son.
Shannon brought the $3-million budget film to the Port City after pulling out of Arkansas, where it was originally scheduled to shoot. He made the decision after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, in effect triggering an abortion ban in Arkansas. North Carolina wasn’t affected by the changed ruling and still allows abortions up to 20 weeks.
It’s the actor’s second time filming in Wilmington this year. He wrapped “George and Tammy” with Jessica Chastain in March.
Talent signed on to “Eric LaRue” includes Judy Greer (“Halloween Kills”), Alexander Skarsgard (“Big Little Lies”), Tracy Letts (“Deep Water”), and Alison Pill (“Devs”), among others.
Wilmington Film Commission director Griffin surmises around 70 crew are working on the production, made by Big Indie Pictures. It is receiving a $589,105 rebate.
Productions receiving grants in other parts of the state include the feature film “Site,” approved for $937,500, and a made-for-TV/streaming movie, “Second Time Around,” to be awarded up to $156,250. Both enterprises are set up in and around Charlotte.
The Universal feature film, “Untitled Please Don’t Destroy,” in production in Burke, Gaston, and Mecklenburg counties, has been approved for a rebate up to $7 million, the maximum a feature-length can receive.
North Carolina’s film and TV incentive program pays out 25% of the film’s budget, with caps on how much each production can receive: $15 million per season for TV and streaming series, $7 million for features and $250,000 for commercials. Production companies do not receive the funds upfront but rather after an audit is completed when the film, commercial or show wraps.
The film grants are administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce and promoted by the North Carolina Film Office, part of VisitNC and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
So far in 2022, the film industry has brought in over $241 million statewide and has created 13,000 job opportunities, according to the state film office. This is half of what 2021’s banner year brought in at over $400 million. Still, more projects are coming down the pipeline, according to Guy Gaster, director of the NC Film Office.
“I anticipate we will have some more announcements in the near future on additional projects for 2022 and are also already talking with productions about 2023,” Gaster said.
There is an annual $31 million pool for projects in the state; unused funds can carry over from the previous year. Gaster didn’t confirm how much was left for projects to pull from in 2022, but assured rebate money is available.
“We are good on funding and continue to accept applications for new projects and continue to facilitate contracts between the production companies and the state.”
With four more months left in 2022, the film industry, Griffin said, deals in big numbers, so the bottom line can jump quickly.
“We don’t add up productions $5 million at a time. We get a TV series, there’s $50 million,” he told Port City Daily in May.
Griffin confirmed another feature film already is planned for Wilmington this year. “And we have a couple of projects that we are waiting on to see if they get a ‘greenlight’ to start or not,” he added.
Currently at EUE/Screen Gems Studio, STARZ’s “Hightown” is wrapping while Amazon’s “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is filming season two.
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