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What is the economic impact and number of jobs created by film productions?

Emily McCrary

Film crews set up for a scene on the show Eastbound & Down in Carolina Beach on July 18, 2011. STAFF PHOTO BY Paul Stephen/Wilmington StarNews

Q. With all the recent filming activity in Wilmington, where can one find out about the economic impact on the local economy? Specifically, local employment due to these productions?

A. Thanks at least in part to the film incentives passed in North Carolina, New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties have seen an exponential increase in spending due to film production, says the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, with a more than 200-percent increase between 2010 and 2011 alone.

In 2011, film productions provided more than 9,000 jobs to people in the New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender areas.

In 2012, the film industry put more than $247 million into our local economy, the commission said.

The state’s film incentives provide a 25 percent tax credit to productions filming in the state of North Carolina. The most a production can earn is $20 million (up from $7.5 million in past years), which means a production would have to pour out $80 million in qualifying expenditures.

While some productions choose to bring crew members with them for contractual or creative reasons, many are choosing to hire locally. Lance Johnson and David Stewart, two recent UNCW graduates, have already found work thanks to the four productions currently filming in town.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better time to graduate because the industry is at an all time high,” Johnson said.

While there is no guarantee of landing a post on a production, and competition is still high, there’s more opportunity to be had now than in many years.

Updated by Si Cantwell on April 22, 2013.

UPDATE: On April 1, 2014, the StarNews reported that a study commissioned by film commissions from across the state, including the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, and the Motion Picture Association of America, found that not extending North Carolina’s film incentives could cost the state more than 4,000 jobs. It found benefits in comparing tax revenue lost to the incentives but gained from productions and in the overall revenues generated by the film industry statewide. You can read the story here, and read the study itself by clicking here.


StarNews in May 2013: Films spent $278 million here, earned $69 million last year

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