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Feature Film Set To Shoot In Wilmington Approved For State Grant Funds

By Jenny Callison, posted Apr 3, 2018
Words on Bathroom Walls, the independent feature film set to shoot in Wilmington starting in May, has been approved to receive a state film incentives grant, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced Tuesday morning.

The project could garner more than $2.3 million in funds from North Carolina’s film and entertainment grant, the news release stated.

“The production is expected to have a direct in-state spend in excess of $9.3 million while creating more than 650 job opportunities in the state, including 120 well-paying crew positions,” the release continued. “It is eligible for a rebate, funded through the film and entertainment grant fund, of up to $2,349,415.”

The film, an adaptation of a young adult novel of the same name, tells the story of Adam, a teenager navigating high school while living with paranoid schizophrenia.

Words on Bathroom Walls is one of two projects approved for grant funds. The other project is a series of five Home Depot commercials scheduled to be shot in High Point, according to the governor’s office announcement.

“North Carolina is excited to once again have cameras rolling in our state on a major motion picture,” Cooper said in the release. “Productions filmed here in North Carolina provide jobs and can pump millions of dollars into local economies. We have the skilled workforce, the diverse locations and a diverse and welcoming people for film to thrive here in North Carolina once more.”

There is currently a balance of about $34 million in the state’s film and entertainment grant pool, according to Wilmington film commissioner Johnny Griffin. These projects are the first applicants for that money to be approved for grants in this fiscal year.

Home Depot’s five commercial spots combined are expected to have a direct in-state expenditure of $2.5 million, qualifying for a potential total rebate of up to $500,000, according to the governor’s office announcement, which went on to say that production for the five commercials is to be completed by the end of 2018 and is expected to create 70 job opportunities – including 55 well-paying crew positions – per  commercial.

There are other projects on the horizon that may apply for grant funds, according to Guy Gaster, director of the N.C. Film Office.

“We’ve been in communication with several projects,” Gaster said Tuesday. “We’re at various stages with them and hopefully will announce more projects and job opportunities soon.

“I think we’re getting our feet back under us,” he added. “We’re seeing more talk; now we need a little more action.”

Two factors are primarily responsible for the film industry’s increased interest in returning to North Carolina, Griffin said.

Potential projects are “encouraged” by recurring funding of about $30 million per fiscal year the state legislature has allocated for the film and entertainment grant going forward, he said, adding, “They are also encouraged by the elimination of the sunset date [for the grant program].”

That means that a television series wanting to shoot its first season in the state “can look ahead at Season 2 and Season 3 and know the grant program will still be in place and at the same level of funding,” Griffin said.

Not every film or television project will fit within North Carolina’s program parameters, however. In order to align with the state’s program, a project must spend enough within North Carolina to qualify for a grant, but its budget must be small enough for the rebate to be attractive.

“A TV project can receive $9 million max, so that’s a North Carolina spend of $36 million. That means shows doing 10 to 13 episodes can fit, while a traditional TV series of 22 episodes might not,” Griffin said.
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