By Kay Whatley, Editor
North Carolina’s Film Office is drawing more and more film industry activity. Expanding efforts in Raleigh are expected to fuel more action in Zebulon, Louisburg, and beyond.
In a recent conversation with Guy Gaster of NCFilm.com (North Carolina Film Office), Mr. Gaster explained that the state film industry grows around regional centers. Wilmington is one regional center, and filming generally takes place within a 30-mile radius around Wilmington. Raleigh is a regional center, with many nearby locations of interest for film makers.
Charlotte has long been a location for commercial production and filming NASCAR-oriented movies. When NC became one of the states with film industry incentives, the level of activity in and around Charlotte increased greatly.
As of this writing, Charlotte has two TV series filming, and many motion pictures under its belt. In addition to the well-known Hunger Games, independent and Hallmark movies have been filmed there.
Another regional center has brought increasing production to the center of the state. In Mr. Gaster’s words, “one or two big feature films” will bring heavy industry growth to the Triad region. Contributing somewhat to filming in the area is the UNC School of the Arts, which has an internationally-renowned film program. Other parts of the state have pulled minimal production, including Western NC.
The Raleigh regional center is made up of thirteen counties, including Franklin and Wake. Mr. Gaster pointed out that several filmmakers have recently expressed interest in using locations in Franklin County farm areas and in Louisburg.
The NC film industry has grown significantly since the incentives were put in place. Just in 2013, one-third of NC’s counties have been locations for film shoots! This means instate spending, tax revenue (minus a small rebate/incentive), and local jobs.
NC-based movies and TV series lead to jobs for actors and for people to: build the sets, decorate the walls, manage the sound, run the cameras, and work behind-the-scenes. Filmmakers depend on skilled labor as close as possible to locations selected for shooting. When film crew members travel long distances, overnight stays and other expenses are incurred by the production company. Work considered “distant” costs more; and, like any business, movie makers work on a budget. Cost savings by hiring locally are attractive.
One independent crew shooting in Rocky Mount this summer is Zero Budget. They are using Rocky Mount and Tarboro locations for the horror movie La Liorona. Their efforts are good for the area. Towns benefit directly when the production purchases supplies, food, and equipment.
Since the company and crew purchased locally, there is a direct economic impact on the community. Local crews like Zero Budget typically buy what they need nearby, which in this case is benefitting Rocky Mount and Tarboro.
As the NC film industry continue to grow, Raleigh’s regional center should become more active. Potential for filming within 30 miles of Raleigh may soon translate into movie making in Zebulon, Louisburg and northeastern locations.
Issue date: Aug 30–Sept 12, 2013