Wilmington worries sun will set on film industry

Posted June 27, 2014

— At Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, actors and crews work side-by-side on the CBS sci-fi hit “Under the Dome." As shooting wraps up on Season 2, some workers worry it will be their last together.

"The thing around set now is 'See you in Georgia,'" said Vanessa Neimeyer, the woman in charge of casting extras for the summer miniseries.

If North Carolina lawmakers don't make a change, the tax incentives that productions such as "Dome" enjoy will end on Dec. 31, and some could move to other states in the Southeast.

"I moved here for the film industry," Neimeyer said.

"These people are my family. If you separate us, it will be a sad day."

Under current law, productions that spend more than $250,000 on qualifying services can get back up to 25 percent of the tax they would pay, up to $20 million.

In fiscal 2013-14, filmmakers spent almost $245 million and qualified for $61 million in rebates in the Tar Heel state. Figures from the state Department of Revenue released earlier this month list 33 productions – including the TV series "Sleepy Hollow" and blockbuster "Iron Man 3" – filmed in North Carolina that employed a total of almost 14,000 workers.

In a move to simplify the tax code, lawmakers last year agreed to let the film tax credit expire at the end of this year. During the short session of the General Assembly, they've discussed various means to either extend the current credit or replace it with a grant for filmmakers. So far, the sunset remains on the books as state budget negotiations near the July 1 deadline.

"We've had very good business the last three or four years," said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. "What we need going forward is to be just as competitive as we are right now."

Without tax incentives, Bill Vassar of Screen Gems worries video productions will go to other states, such as Georgia and Louisiana. Both states offer similar Southeast settings and significant film tax incentives.

"We have to keep the pressure on to let them know we have to remain competitive," Griffin said.


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  • teleman60 Jun 27, 2014

    Why do tax payers give oil companies millions is subsides at a time when that industry is more profitable than any time in human history?

    Decades of greed and corrupt politicians in the case of oil and possibly greed and the desire to create jobs in the case of film/tv which is new and doesn't threaten our environment/beaches//water the way oil does.

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 27, 2014

    Why does the entertainment industry need to be subsidized by the taxpayer?

    With the millions made by the entertainment industry, they should be paying more in taxes instead of getting a taxpayer paid subsidy.

    My industry isn't subsidized by the taxpayer, why should the entertainment industry be subsidized by the taxpayer?

  • iopsyc Jun 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    equal != fair

  • Eq Videri Jun 27, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    And just as soon as Congress outlaws state incentives, we'll have a level playing field and can quit offering them.

    Until then, reality trumps theory.

  • Maurice Pentico Jr. Jun 27, 2014
    user avatar

    If our tax system is "suppose" to be fair... what makes one industry somehow exempt or deserving of tax breaks over another? Yes I know "other States" do it... and even the Federal govt... but really... isnt this a form of cronie capitalism and undermines the trust of citizens everywhere? Same goes for subsidizes... if taxes were low for ALL industries... ALL would be willing to relocate to NC and create jobs.

  • razor2 Jun 27, 2014

    We have opportunities here in the film industry that is badly needed for our state.
    Ask yourself why the GA would put and end to this ? Greed does strange things to people. Its really sad all the good that has been done for our state is being destroyed by our current GA... Can't wait for people to wake up and realize just what these people in office are doing and cause more moral Monday growth and get them out of our government .

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Jun 27, 2014

    Our brilliant radical right legislators are running jobs out of NC, not bringing them in. Next election, they have to go. Before our State is completely ruined.

  • KnowsItAll Jun 27, 2014

    it's ok. since our GOP-controlled legislature is all about giving tax breaks to the richest among us, i'm sure the yacht industry will rush in to replace any jobs lost in the film industry