Last week, Senator Michael Lee announced that the leadership of the House and Senate agreed to replenish the NC Film Grant with $60M for the next 2 fiscal years — $30M per fiscal year. The next step was to revise the language of the film grant. The goal was to focus more on television series rather than features which would be more beneficial to NC Film Crew and small businesses. Most of the changes relate to that.
The budget compromise is 429 pages long and the Senate will be voting on the deal tomorrow. Someone bring in the coffee, Jolt Cola and Red Bull please cuz it’s gonna be a long night! Seriously, how on earth can one human carefully go through 429 pages and know what the hell they are voting on? I’m definitely NOT saying to NOT end this thing. Lord knows this budget is almost 11 weeks overdue, but…well, I’m just sayin’! At least the House requires 72 hours before voting after receiving a monster like this budget. The Senate, however, does not. FYI, according to Colin Campbell over at the N&O, this year’s budget will be the longest-delayed spending plan since 2002.
Our legislators in the NC Senate in general as you know are NOT fans of the film industry. So you can imagine what it would be like to fight for it. It’s like trying to run up a tidal wave. So, any changes that were made, were nothing short of a miracle. So, if you have a moment, please make a call or send an email to Michael Lee, Bill Rabon, and Harry Brown on the Senate side and of course Rep. Ted Davis in the House and thank them for fighting for us.
Anyway, let’s get to it. What are the major changes in the language?
First, the NC Film Grant is a five year plan, expiring July 1, 2020. In this budget we are replenished for the first two years.
Currently the NC Film Grant has a minimum spend of $250,000 per episode for video or television series. The minimum spend will increase to $1M per episode. As a dear friend of mine put it, that will assure we don’t get a lot of low budget/low rate crapola. Yeah, I’d say that’s a good way to put it.
Feature Films remain at $5M. Commercials remain the same as well at $250,000.
Now for the cap! We all detest the $5M cap. The current cap has a max rebate of $5M, up to 25% on qualified expenses/purchases of productions for an entire television series or feature film. We lost out on a few projects because of that! So, the good news is that the max payout will be raised from $5M to $9M for a single television series.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. All things are not created equal. Like feature films. The current the rebate would remain the same at $5M.
You see what they did there? Do I love it? Not really. But should we focus on longer term projects such as television? Yes. As I stated earlier, the goal was to focus more on television series – longer term jobs for the crew and more spending with our vendors. Television is more important to our film folks.
Of course we all wish we could just go back to our good old film incentives, and throw the grant out the window. But it is what it is and we can only move forward from here. What we have in the new budget will get us back on our feet, so in the end it’s worth smiling about.
Other changes include fringe benefits for those who work less than 35 hours per week. In the new grant language, it removes the 35 hours. I don’t have a complete understanding about this yet.
So now the Senate will vote then the House this week. Will they make their Friday deadline? Will the Governor veto? We shall see…