This is not a great time to be looking for a bigger tax break from the cash-strapped state of North Carolina, but that’s exactly what our film industry is doing. They say they have to in order to stay competitive.
North Carolina currently offers production companies a 15% tax break. That used to be sufficient, however Screen Gems’ Bill Vassar and the Greater Wilmington Film Commission’s Johnny Griffin, two leading players on Wilmington’s production stage report they’re losing business to other states that have upped the ante considerably.
Michigan offers 40%, and in our part of the country, Georgia and South Carolina are up to 30%.
North Carolina is back in the pack with the current 15%.
“Most of them are 20, 25, 30%, so to be competitive you have to be up in that range now,” Griffin said.
One big advantage we have here in Wilmington is our infrastructure and crew base, offsetting the need to go to extremes as some states have.
That said, making movies, TV shows, and commercials is a big money, bottom line intensive business.
The sound stage represents a big gamble on the part of Screen Gems, and it represents a lot of confidence in Wilmington’s film future.
If the state legislature would raise that incentive to 25%, both Vassar and Griffin feel Wilmington would once again be in the driver’s seat.
State Senator Julia Boseman has introduced legislation in Raleigh pushing for the 25% film incentive. It is now in the Senate Finance Committee, and has the bi-partisan support of our local house and senate delegation.