Dawson still has a love affair with our town that he called home for so many years. James Van Der Beek cannot attend the upcoming NC Film Rally, but he wanted all of Wilmywood to know he supports us 100%.
Why should we give tax incentives to a bunch of rich billionaires out in Hollywood?
It’s a very good question. One everyone should ask. And the answer, I’m afraid, is: Because they’ll spend their money elsewhere if we don’t.
I hope I can use the term “we.” I really do feel like Wilmington is my adopted home town.
In the six years I spent working in North Carolina, I learned what it is to be a professional. I learned what it is to be part of a team, and I was fortunate enough to call some of the brightest, most talented crew members I‘ve ever met my friends. I never hesitate to praise the working environment I experienced in Wilmington, in any and all press that I do.
And it’s out fondness that I take the time to write this letter to shed some light on how decisions are made in my industry.
Movies are cobbled together by people who have to go up the food chain to ask for the money to make them. They never get everything they want, they sometimes get less than they need, but accounting on productions is extraordinarily tight, and every penny is accounted for. Filmmaking is a crazy process, fraught with many moving pieces, so it doesn’t always look like the most efficient operation once it’s up and running, but long before cameras start rolling, everything is itemized. That much is guaranteed.
What’s not guaranteed, is a profit. Ever. So, if a production can save money simply by shooting somewhere with a tax incentive, they’ll go there. If the script calls for an ocean, but they can save money by shooting in a state that only has lakes, they’ll change it. I’ve seen it happen.
Just look at Massachusetts. They passed a tax incentive one year, and production boomed: multiple movies, writers started to write Boston into their scripts, a crew base started to take shape… and then somebody asked, “Why are we giving tax breaks those rich Hollywood types? If their script says Boston they have to come here, don’t they? They can’t shoot Fenway Park anywhere else, right?” So, they cut the incentive. The next year: zero films were shot in Massachusetts.
What a steady, reliable incentive in North Carolina does is allow Hollywood to employ one of the best crew bases in the US. What it does for those crew members is allow them to have a reasonable expectation of a job that gets them home to their families at night. And what it does for the shops, restaurants, hotels, and countless other businesses, is bring in money. And what all that adds up to is something intangible… something you can’t find on a balance sheet: Community. And all these years later, it’s that sense of community that I’ve taken with me to every set I’ve worked on since.
I sincerely hope the incentives stay intact, because what you have going there is rare, and it’d be a shame to break that up.
And selfishly? I really want to be able to come back and work with y’all again.