In an effort to see increases in their respective film incentives, advocates in Central Florida and North Carolina have launched online campaigns. The N.C. Production Alliance is fighting for an extension for their state's program, which will expire at year's end. In Central Florida, the industry is asking for $200 million in tax credits to bring an estimated "50,000 new film positions" and "$500 million a year in economic impact" to the area.
Speaking on behalf of the NCPA in a Star News article, Katy Feinberg doesn't mince words on the importance of North Carolina's film credits. "We aren't in a place to gamble with a good tax credit when it comes to competing with states like Georgia and Louisiana for productions," she's quoted as saying. Using the site ncproductionalliance.com as a platform, she said "the NCPA aims to better educate the North Carolina public of the importance of the incentive to the state's film industry."
Meeting regularly since 2005, Film Florida is launching their own social media campaign to similarly inform their state's leaders about the benefits of production. They've even created the hashtag #EntertainThis. Last month, an Orlando production company produced a campaign video to aid the effort.
Beyond some of the obvious reasons to moblize, such as the sunsetting of North Carolina's incentives, there are a few additional reasons one can posit for why two states feel now is the time to aggressively push for incentives.
As the economy recovers, slow job growth isn't something a local politician wants to campaign on. In many states, the film industry is one of the few industries showing positive numbers. A shoot on every corner is a visible sign that the recovery is real. When the housing market collapsed, industries such as lumber were hit hard. Now that there are new homes being built, film production hasn't gone anywhere. Movies are still bringing in a nice chunk of additional revenue.
The claim that film production wouldn't lead to permanent jobs or real investment now sounds silly when one looks at Georgia. Half-a-dozen new studios have or are being built across the state. The costs of some the studios is in the $150 million range. The leases for the land they are sitting on stretch into the decades. Pinewood Studio is building what will be the equivalent of a small town, with a variety of businesses onsite.
This isn't a pump-and-dump. They are planning to be around making movies for a while.
Companies that support film, examples are rental houses and costumers, are relocating, or in some cases coming back. Even established companies such as Home Depot have gotten in on the action. Leaders in music and gaming are calling for the same incentives for their industries.
Then there are Henry Cavill's pecs.
In 2012, Michigan's Governor Snyder capped the state's rebate program at $25 million. The local industry fought the cut hard, even launching a Facebook page. Months before the cap was in place, productions relocated their planned shoots. By June of 2012, only one film had qualified for $79,324 in incentives. A huge drop from 2011 when the $215 million Oz: The Great and Powerful had shot in the state.
Two years later, after the legislature increased the rebate to $50 million in 2013 and 2014--over Snyder's continued objections--Warner Bros. is bringing Batman vs. Superman to Michigan. The increase isn't even half of the $115 million in rebates Michigan gave out in 2010, yet it is enough to draw two of the biggest comic book heroes in the world to the Wolverine State this spring.
North Carolina itself can attest to the impact a future loss or reduction of a state's incentive can have on the present. After shooting the first film in the Hunger Games franchise in North Carolina, production of the three sequels moved to Georgia. Watching $130 million Hunger Games: Catching Fire shoot in a rival state must sting. The lost PR value when that same film grosses $860 million worldwide, probably burns.
Such announcements only emboldens filmmakers in Central Florida and North Carolina to double down on their support for incentives. Lobbying to a public that knows these franchises well, and in a medium over which legislatures can't spin the conversation, could be just the leverage those filmmakers need.
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