Mayor Saffo and film industry leaders make their case for film incentives in North Carolina

Mayor Bill Saffo and the owner of Screen Gems Studios holding a news conference on film incentives in Raleigh. (Source: WECT)
Mayor Bill Saffo and the owner of Screen Gems Studios holding a news conference on film incentives in Raleigh. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - For the past few weeks, residents of Wilmington have seen a number of productions being filmed around the Port City.

Sleepy Hollow, Under the Dome, and Secrets and Lies are all productions currently being filmed in Wilmington.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and State Representative Susi Hamilton asked Gov. Pat McCrory Wednesday to visit Wilmington and see the positive impact the film industry has had on North Carolina.

"We would like to invite the governor down to Wilmington to take a look at the permanent jobs that are already in place here," said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo during a press conference at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

"We just want to be able to show the Governor and talk to the Governor and explain to him exactly the investment that is being made and continues to be made, the workers that are employed," Saffo elaborated.

Film workers like Steven Skinner, the Key Rigging Grip on Under the Dome, also made the trek to Raleigh for Wednesday's press conference.

"Mr. McCrory, please help me keep creating jobs- good paying jobs in the state of North Carolina," Skinner said.

Skinner wasn't the one reaching out to the Governor.

"Governor it's time to sit down and break bread and figure out how we're going to do this," said Bill Vassar, Executive Vice President of EUE/Screen Gems in Wilmington.

Vassar and his colleagues from Screen Gems said that doing away with film incentives would mean an eventual end for the filming of productions like Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome in southeastern North Carolina.

"They're all produced by major studios and we have it in our present contracts that says if the incentive significantly changes, we will not renew for the next season," Vassar explained.

Mayor Saffo said his mission is to extend the film credit one more year, then come up with a new incentive model.

Governor McCrory's office reached out to WECT and provided the following response: "Gov. McCrory recognizes the importance of North Carolina's film industry and his plan would target long-term investment and job creation. His proposal provides a cost-effective approach that encourages sustainable growth of the film industry in North Carolina," said Josh Ellis, communications director for Governor McCrory.

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