Revised language for $30M NCFilm Grant. Raises Cap for TV series.

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…

SEE HOUSE BILL 97 NOW (Film Grant on page 299)

 

NC FILM INCENTIVES – Open letter from Rosin IATSE Local 491

Dear Film Friends:

Our mission remains the same: Do all we can to return the healthy film industry to North Carolina.

During this legislative session, while the exodus of our friends and jobs accelerates, the North Carolina House of Representatives has passed several economic development bills that could be used to address the harm done to the film industry. The Senate has not acted on a single one, and seems uninterested in economic development, even as Volvo, another auto plant, announces it is opening a new facility in South Carolina.

The news in the last few days has reported a total state coffer surplus of $1.1 billion. This reflects $400 million more in collections and roughly $70 million in existing reserves. So the argument that “tough times” is why we cannot return the film industry to a competitive national level simply will NOT fly this year. We should also ask, why does JONES STREET have a surplus, but MAIN STEET does not?

During the “Ironman” season, $84 million was granted as incentives for that banner year. As a result, our industry grew by leaps and bounds! Small business start-ups took root in Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville and across the state. This year, legislation to increase the feeble $10 million grant amount has been introduced in both chambers, as well as a bi-partisan economic development bill which has been introduced in the House with the old film program included. But the fact is, at this late stage in the game, it’s all about a “grant.”

Representatives Ted Davis, Frank Iler, and Susi Hamilton continue to fight for our industry. The House has never been the challenge. Last year Representative Davis, with help from Frank and Susi, passed legislation that would have basically returned us to the film credit system we have long enjoyed, only to see that proposal die in the Senate.

Your House delegation is fighting hard for you, and I feel certain they will in the short term be able to increase the amount of the grant significantly when the House budget is rolled out soon.

We need to thank them and support them.

Whatever they are able to cobble together, and it will not be easy, we must demand that the Senate add a like amount to the fund. Please be clear on what I am saying: for every $100 the House puts in, the Senate needs to add a $100, or $200 total. Otherwise the Senate has not done anything!

Jason Rosin
IATSE Local 491
“Concerned for the Future of Film and TV in NC!”

To contact your legislatures:
NC HOUSE CONTACTS 
NC SENATE CONTACTS

NC Film and small businesses that benefit.

Even though I have said this until I am blue in the face, it seems as though the message isn’t getting out there enough. 4200 people who hold full time jobs in the film industry isn’t the whole story; it’s just a part of it. Small businesses benefit from film in a big way. Talk to folks at The Ivy Cottage, Triangle Rent a Car, Old Books on Front, Manna, Brown Dog Coffee Co., Image Monster, etc. 100s of small businesses benefit from our NC Film Industry. Even Barber Shops.

Meet Mr. Graham. I did a story on him a few months back. (SEE STORY NOW), but if you have never met him, you probably didn’t realize he would be one of your favorite folks who live in Wilmington. With his infectious joyful personality and smile, he tells the story of how proud he is to support NC Film. Mr. Graham owns the barber shop at 5th and Castle Sts.  He had the opportunity to work with the film industry on Under the Dome. Listen to what he has to say. He has just one of 100s of stories that our politicians need to hear.

So, how can you help save NC Film? The majority of the general public loves the film industry here and agrees it needs to stay. So, get out and vote wisely. I can help you in a few counties.

FRIENDS of the NC Film Industry:
New Hanover: Elizabeth Redenbaugh, Betsy Jordan, Susi Hamilton, Ted Davis, Frank Iler
Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender: Ernie Ward
Pender, Onslow: Steve Unger
Bladen, Columbus, Robeson: Ken Waddell
Guilford, Rockingham: William Osborne
Guilford: Scott Jones

LIST OF WHO VOTED FOR AND AGAINST FILM: NCGA_FilmmakersVotingGuide_2014

Still looking for MORE volunteers at the polls!  We are looking for folks who are pro-NC Film to work in 2-4 hour shifts at the one stop early voting (October 23, 2014 – November 1, 2014) locations and on Election day (November 4, 2014) in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender County locations. GET MORE DETAILS NOW

ABSENTEE VOTING BY MAIL: Absentee voting runs through October 28, 2014

EARLY VOTING (ONE STOP) PERIOD: October 23, 2014 – November 1, 2014

FILM INCENTIVES UPDATE: Saturday, August 2, 2014

IMAGE CREDIT: http://canlasphotography.blogspot.com/

Because of Susi Hamilton, Ted Davis and Frank Iler’s incredible efforts, we have managed to keep the film incentives debate front and center.

As of this moment SB763 is still alive.

And just so you know, it has a lot more than film within it.  There are things in there that is needed badly for North Carolina to continue to do business.  Bill 881,  the adjournment resolution, that has 763 and all the film language within it, has been sent to the Senate. The Senate reconvened at 11:15am this morning only to adjourn w/out taking up adjournment resolutions. Back next week.  I believe the Senate will reconvene this Tuesday at 10 am.

So, the battle begins all over again.

As for HB1224, the bill that many of the Senate members want so damn bad, the House refused to take it on yesterday and they did not take it on today.  It’s still sitting in the rules committee.

So once again, PLEASE send your emails and make those calls and THANK Hamilton, Davis and Iler for kicking some major ass for us!

Susi Hamilton
919-733-5754
Susi.Hamilton@ncleg.net

Ted Davis
919-733-5786
Ted.Davis@ncleg.net

Frank Iler
919-301-1450
Frank.Iler@ncleg.net

A CALL TO ACTION TO COME – MORE DETAILS SOON…

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Oooh Snap!

FILM INCENTIVES: Passes in the House – Ted Davis is our champion!

Our buddy  Rep. Ted Davis of New Hanover County has thrown the Hail Mary pass on the House floor, the one year extension that we’ve been praying for for the past couple weeks.  This amendment is not a grant but what is similar to what he originally proposed and got shot down early on in the short session.This time  they would the cap the credit amount for the year at $40 million with the refund to go down to 22.5%.  This part was something that was in his original plan and also what the production companies said they could live with.The amendment to also would lower the max amount a feature or TV production could get from $20 million to $15 million, which is just fine.  Iron Man 3 was the only one who has reached that limit (to my knowledge anyway).  And what we’ve also asked for as we made the 1000s of phone calls and emails, another study to see just how film impacts our state.

A film or TV production would also be required to put an NC logo at the end of a film or TV show as well as identity of each location where they filmed.

It was a very emotional and beautiful speech to the House. “I feel like I am at a murder trial,” said Ted Davis as he began his plead to the House to vote on the amendment. “and there is a death sentence for the North Carolina film incentives.”

I will have the audio up soon. (it will blow your mind)

After Davis poured his heart out, some of Representatives got up to either support or oppose the amendment.

Rep. Charles Jeter from Mecklenberg supported the amendment.

Rep. Paul Stam from Wake County opposed it.

Rep. Jeff Collins from Nash County opposed it.

Rep. Michael Speciale from Craven County opposed it.

Rep. Larry Pittman from Cabarrus County opposed it.

Rep. Kelly M. Alexander, Jr. from Mecklenberg County supported the amendment.

Rep. Frank Iler from Brunswick County supported the amendment.

Rep. Mike Hager from Rutherford County opposed it.

Speaker Tillis from Mecklenberg County supported the amendment.

The vote in the House was:   77 YAY  and  36 NAY

PLEASE CONTACT: Ted Davis, Susi Hamilton, Frank Iler, Charles Jeter, Kelly M. Alexander, Jr., Thom Tillis and THANK them for their support!!!  Great job everyone!

Next step – 3rd reading is tomorrow for the entire bill 763, not just the amendment.  Then, it goes to the Senate!

UPDATE: I am now hearing that the Senate will reconvene tomorrow morning, only to take a two week break and join up again to vote on the amendments set forth.  I should have more details tomorrow. I will keep you posted!

Bill Vassar, Executive Vice President of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, NC responded: “We are absolutely thrilled at the passion of Rep. Ted Davis and the miracle that occurred this afternoon. We want to salute and thank Ted Davis for his unwavering efforts and support. We also want to thank NC House Speaker Thom Tillis for his passionate speech in favor of the bill on the House floor. We hope our colleagues in the NC Senate will see the same value in this bill as it moves forward.” – See more at: http://studios.euescreengems.com/film-incentive-rep-ted-davis-amendment-house-successful/#sthash.L3WYRqhD.dpuf

WHO VOTED YES AND WHO VOTED NO?

DEMOCRATS VOTED YES: Representative(s): Adams; Alexander; Baskerville; Bell, L.; Brandon; Brisson; Carney; Cotham; Cunningham; Earle; Farmer-Butterfield; Fisher; Floyd; Gill; Glazier; Graham, C.; Graham, G.; Hall, D.; Hall, L.; Hamilton; Hanes; Holley; Insko; Jackson; Lucas; Luebke; Martin, G; Meyer; Michaux; Mobley; Moore, R.; Pierce; Queen; Reives; Richardson; Terry; Tine; Tolson; Waddell; Wilkins; Wray

REPUBLICANS VOTED YES: Representative(s): Brawley, R.; Brawley, W.; Brody; Bryan; Burr; Catlin; Conrad; Daughtry; Davis; Dollar; Faircloth; Hollo; Holloway; Horn; Hurley; Iler; Jeter; Johnson; Lambeth; Lewis; Malone; McNeill; Moore, T. (CHAIR); Ramsey; Ross, S.; Saine; Samuelson; Schaffer; Setzer; Shepard; Steinburg; Tillis (SPEAKER); Torbett; Turner; Warren, H.; West

DEMOCRATS VOTED NO: Representative(s): Goodman; Harrison

REPUBLICANS VOTED NO: Representative(s): Arp; Avila; Bell, J.; Blust; Boles; Brown, B.; Bumgardner; Cleveland; Collins; Dixon; Dobson; Elmore; Ford; Hager; Hardister; Howard; Jones; Jordan; Langdon; Martin, S; McGrady; Millis; Moffitt; Murry; Pittman; Presnell; Riddell; Speciale; Stam; Stevens; Stone; Szoka; Wells; Whitmire

OK North Carolina – The gloves are off! We’ve been double-crossed by Tillis and Howard.

This morning on June 11th, one of our film industry supporters, Representative Ted Davis, introduced an amendment to Senator Rabon’s bill 744.  This amendment would lower our film incentive slightly from 25% to 22%, cap productions at $15 million and extend the credit to 2017.  Not perfect, however, the major studios did say they could live with it and still do business in North Carolina.

Rep. Davis carried out his plan with the knowledge that he was being supported by Speaker Tillis and Finance Chairwoman, Rep. Julia Howard.  Both Tillis and Howard gave Ted Davis their full support that the bill would be voted on favorably in the finance committee this morning. While Rep. Davis was reading the bill… BAM!  Speaker Tillis’s staff and Rep Howard went behind his back and worked publicly against him putting pressure on each Republican Representative to vote no to the amendment.  He was double crossed.  The vote went down with 20 nays and 16 yays for his amendment.  It has failed.

So, who said No to the film incentives?  Julia Howard (Forsyth, Davie), Bill Brawley(Mecklenberg), David Lewis(Harnett), Mitchell Setzer(Catawba), John Blust(Guilford), Justin Burr(Montgomery, Stanly), Jeff Collins(Franklin, Nash), Nelson Dollar(Wake), Mike Hager(Burke, Rutherford), Jon Hardister(Guilford), Jonathan Jordan(Ashe, Watauga), Tim Moffitt(Buncombe), Tim Moore(Cleveland), Ruth Samuelson(Mecklenberg), Jacqueline Schaffer(Mechlenberg), Edgar Starnes(Caldwell), Michael Stone(Harnett, Lee), Harry Warren(Rowan), Andy Wells(Catawba), Paul Stam (Wake).

So the question remains: Thom, why did you betray us?  We have thanked you for your support, and you stabbed us in the back and are sending  1000s practically packing! Well, Speaker Tillis when you pack your bags, make sure you know you will be heading to Cornelius, not DC come 2015. You need to FIX this!

Hell hath no fury like an NC Film Supporter Scorned, Speaker Tillis.

The next three hours are CRUCIAL, North Carolina!  We think they know they screwed up, and now we need to flood the phone lines once again.  But we need a Tsunami today.  Times 10!  Let’s show ’em Film supporter, crew members and small businesses!  Show ’em we will NEVER stand down, and no film in NC = no votes for them.

Now, even though my job is to rant and rave, yours is to be nice and polite.  They watch and listen to you like a hawk.  We want to keep our message strong, but you MUST remain polite.

INSTRUCTIONS: WHO TO CONTACT NOW!

ThomTillis2SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: THOM TILLIS
Please call Speaker the office of Speaker Tillis.  Phone: 919-733-3451   
PLEASE SAY THESE WORDS! (in your own words) But Double Cross is key!

FOR ALL OF NORTH CAROLINA: “Good morning.  After this mornings “DOUBLE CROSS” in the Finance Committee, I wanted to deliver a very personal message to the Speaker.   On behalf of the over 4000 families that were counting on the SPEAKER to protect our jobs and livelihood in the years to come;  if I’m uprooting my family in 2015 and moving to Atlanta in January, because of this sick DOUBLE CROSS.  Come November, in the election, I’m going to work to make sure the Speaker will be moving back to Cornelius, and not Washington, DC!    Film = Jobs.   Atlanta = Cornelius.   It’s really that simple.  And that’s my message between now and Election Day 2014.  MR. SPEAKER, YOU NEED TO FIX THIS!!

JuliaHowardNC HOUSE CHAIR REP. JULIA HOWARD. 

FOR THOSE IN FORSYTH AND DAVIE COUNTIES: Julia Howard is the NC House Chair.  She has been against the film incentives since day one.  Again we must remain polite and tell her you are a voter and please ask her to change her stance on the film incentives and you support them!  No Film.  No Re-election.

Representative Julia Howard, Chair
Julia.howard@ncleg.net
(o) 919-733-5904
(d) 336-751-3538

And finally after you cool off, please make sure you thank Ted Davis (919-733-5786) for working his ass off trying to make this happen for us.  Also, Susi Hamilton (919-733-5754), our fiery red-head who is NOT standing down!

Alright folks, let’s get the hell to work!  And SHARE this with ALL OF NORTH CAROLINA!

HB 1142 filed to prevent ‘Sunset’ on NC Film Incentives.

Remember these names!   Susi Hamilton, Frank Iler, Ted Davis and Becky Carney (Mecklenburg County). These folks just got together and filed HB 1142 in the NC House. Take note they are a mix of Republicans and Democrats.  This house bill would keep the state’s tax incentives for film projects from ending or as we call it “sunsetting.”  Read HB 1142 NOW

Remember however, there will be short term wins and losses over the next few weeks.  So, don’t get too excited, but it’s definitely worth smiling over.HB1142

READ MORE NOW AT WWAY