Despite the legislature’s elimination of a popular tax-incentive program for TV and film projects, film is not dead in North Carolina – at least, not film appreciation. Film creation may be another story.
But film supporters haven’t given up hope of restoring the incentives program for this money-making industry in our state. As part of an apparent push for awareness, a new film and exhibit series – “Made in Winston-Salem” – starting next month will focus on movies that were filmed in Winston-Salem, the Journal’s Tim Clodfelter reported recently. The program is a collaboration between Aperture Cinema, the Piedmont Triad Film Commission and the New Winston Museum.
The films will include the 2006 documentary “The Trials of Darryl Hunt;” “George Washington,” which features Paul Schneider of the recent “Goodbye to All That” and the late Eddie Rouse, a character actor who lived in Winston-Salem for many years; “Junebug,” written by local writer Angus MacLachlan; and “Mr. Destiny,” a 1990 comedy starring Jim Belushi. A schedule and more information can be found online at: http://aperturecinema.com/made-in-w-s.html
The screenings will include panel discussions. We suspect that restoration of the film tax credits will surface in those talks.
Winston-Salem supporters aren’t alone in the fight. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and other community leaders spoke Thursday at EUE/Screen Gems Studios, a 50-acre soundstage lot in Wilmington, about the loss of tax credits, The Associated Press reported last week. Saffo spoke about the 2015 grant-based program providing $10 million in rebates for qualifying projects, a bone the legislature tossed to filmmakers after the loss of the tax incentives. Saffo said that that’s not enough; he said that increasing the amount of money available in the new grant program is essential to making North Carolina’s film industry competitive again.
The film industry in North Carolina was a proved commodity, with returns, in terms of money spent and jobs created, far outpacing the investment in the tax credits – as high as nine to one. From 2007 to 2012, the film industry spent more than $1 billion here, which included not just the salaries of movie professionals, but those of caterers, carpenters, hotel owners and other North Carolina residents.
With the passing of the film tax incentives, film professionals have moved to other states, including those who were shooting the FOX TV series “Sleepy Hollow” in Wilmington. After decades of activity, there are now currently no major motion pictures scheduled to be filmed in North Carolina.
If the legislature truly intends to improve our economic picture, it dropped the ball on this one. We once again urge it to restore the tax incentives program.
The Journal, in partnership with the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, will hold a forum on March 4 on historic preservation tax credits and film tax credits; more information can be found at the end of the Readers’ Forum on the opposite page.