It reads like a Hollywood tragedy: For a while, North Carolina was flying high, as a film and television star – third in the nation in film and TV production, as recently as 2014.
And that’s where the story takes a turn.
A new legislature, led by Republicans, thought that the incentives being offered were too generous, not fair to other industries and perhaps not even necessary. So they replaced the incentives program with one offering small grants.
“The film grant was so limited, that the few projects that we did get to the state, they were going to the big production centers where most of the crew are, like Wilmington and Charlotte,” says Rebecca Clark, who runs the Piedmont Triad Film Commission, making it her job to recruit film and movie projects to the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point area of the state.
She quickly found herself, “outbid,” by neighboring states, like Georgia.
“We have a great reputation as a great filmmaking state. We have the infrastructure, we have the crew base we have wonderful,” says Clark. “We didn't need to offer as much as Georgia - and we still don't - however, we need to be a little more competitive than we are, now.”
Independent filmmakers, like Nick Westfall who grew up in Greensboro, insist the incentives are key for people like him.
“When you have a script as we do with the small town university as our home set, it could be anywhere,” says Westfall. “It could be 10 minutes outside New York City, it could be North Carolina. And the next question is, 'If it could be anywhere, what place would benefit us best?' And that is always going to be where the film incentives are.”
See how the incentives have changed over the years and why Clark and Westfall think they are essential if North Carolina wants back in the game, in a big way, in this edition of the Buckley Report.