Monday, June 17, 2024

Film industry exceeds $250M in statewide spending in 2022

The state received over $250 million from film production in-state spending in 2022. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

The state has released the economic impact the film industry had on North Carolina in 2022, ranking it the sixth-highest in the 2000s since incentives began.

According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, filmmakers spent around $258 million on productions, helping in turn create 16,000 jobs, 3,000 of which were crew and talent positions. Seventy-four productions — film, television, and streaming projects — rolled cameras last year from the mountains to the coast.

READ MORE: Joshua Jackson returning to Wilmington to film Ava DuVernay series

Multiple projects filmed in the greater Wilmington in 2022, including:

A project by “OBX” creator Jonas Pate, “Untitled Band Pilot” shot in the area in December and was approved for a $625,000 film grant, making its budget roughly $2.5 million.

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“Our film industry is an economic multiplier for North Carolina,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in the release. “These projects not only provide thousands of job opportunities for our talented workforce, but they also support the small business communities surrounding every production set, positively impacting the local economies where they film.”

The department noted that filming for 2023 is underway, with five productions setting up statewide. Last month, “Zoey 102” (pseudonym “Electric Love”) starring Jamie Lynn Spears wrapped. It was approved for a grant up to $3.5 million.

Currently, Wilmington film outfit Honey Head Productions is doing a made-for-TV/streaming feature, “A Bigger Slice of Sky (aka The Confession).” The story follows a struggling musician who returns to her childhood home and finds her father, now deceased, has committed a crime. It is eligible for a rebate of $375,000.

The “Untitled J+L Project” also has set up in Wilmington, starring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff, created by Ava DuVernay. No announcements have been made yet on its potential rebate.

Combined with other 2023 rebates approved for productions in the state — “A Baltimore Christmas” ($1 million), “Blue Ridge” ($1.5 million) and “Summer Camp” ($2.9 million) — the department or commerce estimates in-state spending to be roughly $98.5 million with 9,700 job opportunities created so far this year.

“Following a successful year, it’s great to have multiple projects already making an impact in the state in 2023,” Guy Gaster, director of the North Carolina Film Office, said in the release. “It’s no longer a secret that our state is wide open for filming, and we look forward to continuing to build off our successes in 2021 and 2022.”

2021 was a record-breaking year for North Carolina, raking in $416 million from in-state spending from productions.

The film grant could be modified in the coming year with a recently proposed bill floating in the General Assembly. It suggests the current incentive — a 25% rebate on qualifying expenses, such as goods and services, compensation and wages, per diems, stipends and living expenses for film industry employees to work in the state — bump up to 35% for productions that film in rural areas, or tier one and two counties.

“I would hope the proposed bill could result in projects spreading back out across the state, like we had prior to 2015,” Gaster told Port City Daily last week. “Anything that will encourage production in North Carolina I see as a positive.”

CATCH UP: Bill modifying NC film grant targets distressed counties for economic boost

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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