North Carolina working to reclaim its spot as one of the nation’s hottest film markets

The Queen City has been a growing center of film production in the state.
The film industry is rebounding in North Carolina in the wake of House Bill 2 and the pandemic.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 7:03 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - We’re in the middle of Hollywood’s awards season. The Golden Globes were last month. The SAG Awards will be in a couple weeks and then the Academy Awards will be handed out in March.

It wasn’t too long ago that scenes from Charlotte were the backdrop for some of those award winners.

We’ve also seen big time movie productions. The Hunger Games was shot in Charlotte and the mountains. The Color Purple was done in Anson and Union Counties. And then there was Shallow Hal, which filmed in a much different looking Charlotte more than 20 years ago.

Guy Gaster works at the North Carolina Film Office, and shared his thoughts on the impact of movie-making here at home.

“There’s definitely a ripple effect within the state as a result of filming,” Gaster said. “Tourism is one area where we do see down the road. People expressing interest and wanting to see where a scene was shot.”

He also discussed the economic impact that the film industry has brought to the Charlotte area.

“Charlotte has been a growing center of production for us. In fact, last year alone we had $55.5 million spent in the greater Charlotte area,” Gaster said. “I think that if there were, if we can continue to grow the crew base, that will make the Queen City more attractive and also some additional infrastructure.”

There was a stretch 10-15 years ago when production was booming in the state.

Wilmington was known as Hollywood East. Iron Man 3 was shot there in 2012.

The state was luring a lot of productions here with very aggressive tax incentives until 2014 when those expired and state lawmakers moved to issuing much smaller grants.

The change in incentives coupled with the controversies of HB2, the so-called Bathroom Bill, in 2016, really slowed things down.

However, over the past few years, things have rebounded as the aforementioned state grant program has expanded.

Next week, ‘Remember Yesterday,’ an independent film that was shot, edited and produced in Wilmington will start streaming on Amazon Prime.

J.R. Rodriguez is the creator of ‘Remember Yesterday,’ and spoke to the benefits of streaming and digital opportunities.

“It’s a wider audience,” he said. “With a story that we want to tell, you know, we want people to feel good. And we can actually reach more people with a streaming deal we, we have an opportunity to folks that that don’t necessarily go to the cinema, some folks can’t go to the cinema.”

While Rodriguez focused on the positive impact that streaming services can have on film-making, Gaster is searching for ways to grow it and funnel more money and resources into the industry. One of those necessary resources is soundstages built specifically for production.

“We’re just looking for the right investors,” he said. “I mean that that’s a private business. The state doesn’t necessarily invest in studios directly ourselves, so we are certainly always talking with investors and groups that build those types of stages operate them. And pitching Charlotte and other areas of the state. As you know, potential locations for that.”

Gaster said battles remain to bring back the all-enticing incentives, but that the state of North Carolina is still luring plenty of smaller productions to the area.

He mentioned horror films as one genre that the state has seen recent success with, including a couple highly-successful ones.

Recently, the Charlotte area has also served as the filming site for several Pure Flix productions, some of which have included big-name stars.

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