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North Carolina continues to hit it big with film directors

Posted April 30, 2008
Updated May 1, 2008

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— Twenty years have passed since the film "Bull Durham" was released. The movie, which starred Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, was shot at the Durham Athletic Park.

"Bull Durham" is just one of more than 800 movies shot in North Carolina. The film industry brings in a lot of money, so the state pulls out all the stops to lure directors.

“You can't buy a billboard bigger than a 40-foot movie screen,” North Carolina Film Office Director Aaron Syrett said.

The state has offered a 15 percent tax credit to movie makers since 2006.

"It's a good incentive,” Syrett said.

The 1980s and early 1990s were the heyday of North Carolina's film industry, with dozens of movies, such as "The Last of the Mohicans," bringing recognition to the state.

But the business of movie location is very competitive.

"They offered up to 40 percent incentive to come up to Canada and with the dollar at the time, it was well worth it," Syrett said.

In an effort to compete with Canada, 48 states now offer movie incentives.

"(Incentives) makes a big difference when you are trying to shoot and stay in the states, quite honestly, and shoot. It makes a very big difference," said George Clooney, director of the film "Leatherheads" and one of its stars.

Set in 1925, portions of "Leatherheads" were shot in western and central North Carolina, including Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Salisbury.

North Carolina's incentives are still lower than competitors like Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan, but Syrett said the state's natural beauty continues to be a big draw.

Last year was "our best year since those glory days," he added.

Right now, four movies are being filmed in North Carolina. Locations are on the coast and in Charlotte. About 20 movies are being recruited to the state.

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  • mommy2caroline May 1, 2008

    I remember being a student at UNCW back in the early 90's (yes, I'm dating myself) and watching them film parts of Sleeping With the Enemy down by the surf. Of course then they ran us off for being disorderly and mildly intoxicated but it was fun to watch!

  • kmb24 May 1, 2008

    North Carolina's incentives are NOT lower than Louisiana and Michigan. Louisiana is at 25% and we lose a lot of work to them. Michigan recently passed legislation making their film incentive 40%. Just a few other competitive states are Connecticut at 30%, South Carolina at 30% (which is probably why at least half of Leatherheads was shot there), New Mexico at 25%, and New York recently passed legislation for a 30% film incentive with an extra 5% tacked on to that for shooting in NYC. How does 15% sound now? Not so great. Write your congressmen and tell them you want our state to have at least a 30% film tax incentive so that we can compete with all these other states.

  • Garnerwolf1 May 1, 2008

    They come because of the incentives. Major dollars. If the incentives get larger elsewhere, they'll go there. The only thing we have going for us, that other places may not have, yet, are the studios in Wilmington.

  • Redd May 1, 2008

    Of course they would come here, we have a beautiful state!!!!!!

  • JustAName May 1, 2008

    They forget TV shows like Dawson's Creek, Matlock and others filmed in Wilmington.

    Apparently there was a reality TV show being filmed in downtown Raleigh last night.