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It’s lights, cameras and revenues as filmmakers flock to North Carolina

Filmmakers working in North Carolina are on track to have a $409 million economic impact on the state’s finances this year, Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday.

These investments are on track to be the biggest since the creation of the state’s Film and Entertainment Grant program in 2014, Cooper said, during a press conference at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington.

All together this year, these productions may create more than 25,000 job opportunities for film professionals and background talent in the state.

Filmmakers are attracted to the 25% rebate offered through state grants.

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“We’ve all worked hard toward this banner year for North Carolina’s film industry,” Cooper said. “With our resilient communities and local businesses, and our growing reputation for inclusion and diversity, North Carolina will continue to provide a beautiful stage for film projects of all sizes in every corner of the state.”

The spending would top the previous record of $373 million in 2012, when the movies “Iron Man 3,” “We’re The Millers,” “Revolution,” “Homeland” and “Banshee” were filmed in the state.

“These multimillion-dollar revenues for 2021 are great economic development wins for North Carolina,” state Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in a statement. “Our film industry, with its experienced production talent and compelling film locations, creates good paying jobs and positive economic impacts for our economy.”

North Carolina is rated triple-A by Moody’s Investors Service, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings.

The state Legislature is currently working on the $25.7 billion fiscal 2021-2023 budget that the governor proposed in March.

“Our state budget availability is strong, with nearly $5 billion in unreserved cash in the general fund as we enter the FY 2021-2023 biennium,” he said when delivering the budget to lawmakers. “Our economic forecast anticipates continued economic expansion. And our debt affordability of almost $15 billion over the next 10 years presents the state with a generational opportunity to make lasting investments at historically low interest rates.”

Filmmakers are attracted to the 25% rebate offered through state grants. They also appreciate the existing highly skilled film workforce along with the state’s infrastructure and variety of site locations.

“Our consistent message of a strong workforce coupled with a stable and reliable rebate program has been heard loud and clear by production executives and has resulted in these economic development wins for North Carolina,” said Guy Gaster, director of the state’s film office, which is part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

The grant program provides financial assistance to attract film and television productions that will stimulate economic activity and create jobs in the state. Production companies get no money up front and must meet direct in-state spending requirements to qualify for funds.

“The pandemic has taught us a lot — including that people demand more content to watch. The TV & Film industries are looking for new places and ways to supply that demand. The numbers don’t lie — North Carolina is a desirable place for the Film & TV production to do business,” said Charlotte Councilman and filmmaker Braxton Winston.

Film activity is happening in all eight of the state’s economic development prosperity zones. This year’s projects include eight popular series that have the possibility of returning to North Carolina for additional seasons.

Productions that have been awarded film and entertainment grants for 2021 are: Florida Man; The Summer I Turned Pretty; Our Kind of People; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; The Peripheral; Echoes; Along for the Ride; Line Sisters; One Summer; County Line: All In and County Line: No Fear; Christmas in Harmony; George and Tammy; Hightown; Delilah; The Black Phone; Welcome to Flatch; I.S.S.; and Evolution.

Several reality series have also been filmed in the state including “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks” and “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” as well as TV commercials for Chevrolet, Adidas, Shell and Volvo.

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