Lawmakers approve NC film incentive bill

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - North Carolina Senators have approved a bill that will expand incentives to film makers.

Early Friday afternoon, lawmakers in Raleigh voted to approve Senate Bill 943, which increases the tax break incentives from 15 percent to 25 percent.

Bill Vassar and other members of North Carolina's film industry are celebrating the blockbuster victory.

"It's very exciting for Screengems, but more so for the film industry in the state of North Carolina," said Vassar.

Industry insiders say it's needed to keep films from leaving North Carolina for other states with better offers.

Advocates point to a Miley Cyrus movie that Walt Disney planned to film in Wilmington but moved to Georgia, which offers incentives of up to 30 percent.

"We've been getting slaughtered by Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Michigan who have been offering extremely high incentives," said Vassar.

The legislation is also good news for those who provide services to film crews like Philippe Gallichet and his wife Phyllis.  The couple own a movie catering company.

"What a big sigh of relief," said Philippe.

"Every morning we grab the paper and say, 'Is there anything that's going to affect us, or are we going to have to consider moving to Georgia?'" said Phyllis.  "We don't have to move to Georgia.  We want to live and work here."

Gov. Bev Perdue is expected to sign the bill into law, going into effect January 1, 2010.

Vassar said they may not have to wait very long before film projects come back to Wilmington.

"All I can say is we are talking to two productions now," said Vassar.  "As the word got out the last couple of days that this was going to happen, we started to get phone calls."

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