I was at the General Assembly today watching the House debate their budget. I was able to talk with Rep. Ted Davis at the midnight break. The Film Grant is now at 40 million – down from 60 million. Expected. The hurdle is the Senate. The House budget is about 6% over what they did last time for a budget. Certain Senate members have told me the Senate wants to get that figure to 2% over the last budget. That 4% represents a lot of money. The 4% is where the battle will be. The 4% is where our money lies.
It is becoming evident that even with the Film money as a grant there are certain members of the House but especially the Senate that do not like sending any money to liberal Hollywood – as they put it. ERMP supports sending Grant Program money to businesses in North Carolina producing movies mostly AND some Hollywood Production Companies. This is a hard sell. It is exactly opposite what has been happening for the last 30 years.
The film and television industry is changing. Middle to small video production houses can produce movies on a par with Hollywood for a fraction of the money. We have all seen movies that were shot for $40 – $80 thousand dollars that are amazingly good and Hollywood ready. North Carolina needs to be there home! NC needs to be the incubation farm for this level of the industry. Hollywood would be Nordstrom and NC would be Walmart. Which one is bigger? If we can redirect the conversation in the General Assembly toward economic development of the indigenous NC film and television industry, then we have a chance of creating a very strong case for building this Grant Program bigger each year.
Please keep an eye out in June for the budget debate. June will be the bloody budget battle month in the General Assembly. June will be when the Senate wades into the budget fray. The Senate is amazingly conservative and will give little ground. The House members who support the film and television industry need your backing and support in this month. They need to know you care.