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Business leaders discuss film industry’s impact on Wilmington area

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Based on the crowds that turned out for a couple of casting calls last weekend it appears Wilmington’s film industry is alive and well.

Show business was the topic of conversation this morning with business leaders in Wilmington. Experts say incentives are essential to drawing productions here, but they are not the only thing that play a role in getting more movies and TV shows to Hollywood East.

With the big-budget blockbuster “Iron Man 3” jetting toward the Cape Fear, it seems the Wilmington film industry is on its way up. Key players in getting productions to the area say it’s about working together with the community to attract movies and television shows.

Cucalorous director Dan Brawley says the film industry is essential to Wilmington’s economy.

“The film industry itself is a part of a larger cluster of creative professionals who find Wilmington a great place to live, and it’s really the 21st century economy,” Brawley said. “Wilmington is in a really good place in the creative economy as we move forward, and films like ‘Iron Man 3’ will have a major impact on that.”

As new productions are just beginning, a Hollywood East stalwart is set to shoot its final episode next week. “One Tree Hill” producer Greg Prange says he has been in the area for 15 years, filming “OTH” and “Dawson’s Creek.” He says Wilmington’s film industry is essential for the community as a whole, not just those involved with the productions.

“We employ a lot of people. We bring a lot of jobs. We buy a lot of goods and services. The film industry rents a lot of hotel rooms, a lot of houses. There’s a lot of money spent in restaurants. Everything that happens in a normal community happens with a lot of people that come in from out of town or people that just live here,” Prange said.

Screen Gems Studios says although “Iron Man 3” will take up a number of soundstages, there’s still space available.

Officials say two more projects are in talks and will most likely head to Wilmington in the next couple of months. Those productions, on top of a made-for-TV movie shooting later this month, may create many jobs in the region in the near future.

The Cucalorus Film Festival is another thing that draws the industry to the port city. The festival begins tomorrow and runs all weekend. Brawley says Cucalorus only works because of the thriving film community here in Wilmington.

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