The press conference started of with EUE/Screen Gem’s Bill Vassar diffusing any rumors that the studios were in danger. “No we are NOT closing Screen Gems,” Vassar said. He explained that we have weathered storms before and we will weather it again.”
Vice Chair of the NHC Commissioners, Beth Dawson came out and expressed that the City of Wilmington along with New Hanover County, the film commission as well as the tourism board are all banning together to show great support for the film industry here in Wilmington. They are doing everything they can and are working very hard with our legislators to ensure that we increase the grant so that North Carolina is still a strong viable option for film production.
Mayor Bill Saffo of course reinterated the city’s support and noted that in 2014, film spending was at $170M. But this year they are estimating around $40M. Saffo also gave us more data. He said that we have seen a 70% drop in inquiries for film projects. At this time last year they had seen at least 15 healthy inquiries, but this year, they had only about 3 thus far.
UPM, Chris Bromley was in attendance, and when Dawson asked for questions and comment, he reminded everyone to reach out to small businesses who are affected and benefit from film and make sure they become a member at smallbusinessforfilm.com. He said that we have 489 small businesses all across North Carolina that have already joined. It is free to sign up and takes only 30 seconds to fill out.
So all in all, it was nothing we didn’t already know, however, if we don’t remind folks Under the Dome in Raleigh, it will be swept under the rug. Great job everyone!
HERE IS THE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:
WILMINGTON FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY UNIFIED BEHIND EXPANDING AND IMPROVING THE FILM GRANT PROGRAM
Wilmington, NC, February 19th – The film and television industry in Wilmington is unified in supporting the efforts of our local legislative delegation to expand and improve the film grant program created by the General Assembly last year.
The Wilmington Regional Film Commission, EUE Screen Gems Studios, City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce are working in partnership with elected officials from this region to ensure that the film and television industry remains viable and continues to support thousands of jobs in the regional economy.
The film and television grant program was created by the North Carolina General Assembly last year to replace the highly successful tax credit policy that had helped propel the thirty year statewide industry’s rapid growth in recent years. We are working closely with our Representatives and Senators to increase the funding in the grant program to a level that will continue to retain our current employment and recruit new projects and the jobs they will create.
On behalf of the film and television industry and the thousands of people employed, we want to thank our local legislative delegation–particularly Representatives Ted Davis, Susie Hamilton, Frank Iler and Senators Bill Rabon and Michael Lee–for their continued support.