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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Move over Hollywood. Charlotte is becoming a hot spot for making movies.
Lights, camera.. but this time all the action is here in Charlotte.
From major motion pictures to popular small screen TV shows Charlotte is working on building a reputation for becoming the Hollywood of the East Coast.
Tell someone a few years ago that Charlotte would someday become the Hollywood of the East and they'd call you crazy. While we're not there yet, the future is getting brighter.
How did this come about?
Movies like this "Shallow Hal" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, which was shot in Charlotte 11 years ago, brought the city a lot of attention.
Other big movies which used Charlotte Motor Speedway as a backdrop did the same.
Lured in part through tax breaks and incentives it appeared North Carolina's film industry was poised to take off..
But then other states decided to get in on the action and the state lost some big names.
Gov. Bev Perdue remembers it from a few years ago.
State lawmakers went to work.
In 2006, they passed legislation that gives production companies a 25-percent tax break effectively keeping North Carolina in the game.
It's made a big difference.
"We really think the sky's the limit here. We think this is just the beginning. We're scratching the surface," says Beth Petty, director of the film division at the Charlotte Regional Partnership, a regional non profit that promotes growth in the Charlotte area.
The motion picture "Hunger Games" which comes out this spring, she says, is the largest feature film ever shot in the Charlotte region.
Filmed last year in locations around the area it coincided with the filming of the Showtime TV drama "Homeland" which stars Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin.
What brought the sets here?
"It's the North Carolina incentives," she said, "it's the fact that we are so accessible.. we have great restaurants, hotels.. we have a work force and news spreads. Good news travels."
And it's good news for the economy.
The Charlotte Regional Partnership says the film industry is a half-a-billion dollar industry in the Charlotte region.
It's not hard to see why.
Consider the partial receipts from just one film shot in Wilmington last spring.
The crew spent $1.3 million on catering, $1.1 million on lumber, $420,000 on car rental and $120,000 in security.
And for North Carolina cities the more movies and TV shows you host the better.
Johnny Griffin is with the Regional Film Commission in Wilmington.
He says, "It's sort of like a hotel. If you have an empty hotel it's kind of hard to market.. because people wonder why it is empty. And now having a lot of companies here that can spend through word of mouth to Los Angeles."
What do they like about Charlotte? It's certainly cheaper to shoot here than in Hollywood.
Film industry experts say there's a good crew base here and infrastructure in place - we have the facilities.
And they like our international airport - direct flights to almost anywhere in the country.
"Hunger Games," the movie shot here last summer, is set to open in theaters on March 23rd.