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A Greater Grant? Bills Look To Boost State Money For Film And TV

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North Carolina’s new film grant program is just 72 days old. But already there are two bills aiming to change how much money the state can offer TV and movie productions in order to lure them to the state. 

Under the old, uncapped incentive package, North Carolina paid tens of millions of dollars a year. The new grant system has just $10 million to give out in total. In 2014, there were a lot of productions that took advantage of the incentives. Guy Gaster, the Director of the North Carolina Film office, says at this time last year 15 or so projects "were getting ready to shoot or definitely be shooting in the state." This year, that number is down by 66 percent says Gaster.

"We know of five projects that will definitely be shooting in the state," Gaster said. 

Earlier this month, the TV series ‘Under the Dome’ started shooting its next season in Wilmington. But just that one production may qualify for $5 million of the grant, half of all the money available.

Which is why Representative Ted Davis says, "That $10 million is totally inadequate."

Davis is the primary sponsor of the new film grant bill in the state house. Davis says he wants to get the number of productions in the state back up to those seen in 2014. To do that he says it  would take "at least $60 million for one year."

So Davis’s bill ups the total amount in the state’s grant program from $10 million to $66 million. But it also increases the minimum amount a TV show or movie must spend in state in order to qualify.  

Davis’s bill is identical to one introduced in the Senate. And that’s not by accident. It was a tactical move he hoped would speed the process along. But while the bill in the house has been referred to the finance committee for consideration and a vote, the Senate version now sits in the rules committee, which can be a holding tank for bills that will never again see the light of day, or get a vote.