NC film and TV workers hope proposed bills bring productions back to NC

North Carolina
People Filming Scene

Iron Man 3, Sleepy Hollow, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Under the Dome. The list is long but, in recent years, there have been fewer film and television projects in North Carolina.

People in the business tend to blame the loss of what they once considered a competitive incentive package.  

In 2014, the North Carolina legislature replaced the film tax credit with a film incentive grant program.

So some projects that started here, like The Hunger Games, which shot its first installment in Western North Carolina, left for other states.

“Crew, lighting, gaffers, those sorts of folks, hair and make-up, construction literally packed their bags and headed out to the next opportunity in Atlanta” said Eric Johnson.

Johnson is senior vice president of Sound and Engagement at Trailblazer Studios, which is based in Raleigh.

It’s also the production house behind the non-scripted television series Salvage Dawgs.

Earlier this year, lawmakers reintroduced a new law that would restore the film tax credit.

Johnson hopes it doesn’t just sit in committee and not get a vote.

“One of the first questions is ‘what’s the incentive package look like in North Carolina?’ If this is a show or film that could shoot in North Carolina or somewhere where the incentives are strong they’ll go there to shoot and a lot of times that, means we’ve lost the post-production piece as well” he said. 

Shawn Pinner is a colorist and editor and told CBS 17, “there’s definitely a large community of filmmakers here for production as well as post and being able to keep more work coming in just brings more money here more money for businesses more money coming through”.

Including everything from caterers to hotels to hardware stores. 

Michel Holbook is in her 11th year as an audio mixer at Trailblazer.

She said North Carolina is an easy sell.  

She moved to the state for grad school and stayed.

“You know the quality of life we have here in North Carolina, the work life balance we have here, you can’t find that in New York or LA or other major markets,” she said.

Eric Johnson said technology has also opened up new possibilities.

“We had a lot of content being shot here but being sent back to New York or LA, mostly LA, to be edited so now more than ever you don’t actually have to be in Hollywood to actually produce content.”

Dawson’s Creek shot the entire run of the series in North Carolina.

But, Showtime’s Homeland started in Charlotte but then left.

Johnson said while feature films can have a big impact serial television has a longer lasting one.

“That provides recurring revenue, people move here, maintain a household for years so really episodic television is an extreme loss when it goes away.”

He adds filming stories about the South in the South creates better and more honest work.

“We have an opportunity to tell our own stories and tell southern stories in an authentic and complex way that someone outside this area may present a stereotypical view of the South that’s inaccurate. And these stories come from both sides of the political fence they come from all areas and those are all stories that need to be told.” 

You can read both the North Carolina House and Senate proposals here:

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