Print
Entrepreneurs

Sound Off: Bringing Back The Film Industry

By Dan Brawley, posted May 4, 2018
Dan Brawley
Very few industries can compete with the film industry in terms of economic impact.
 
Film production creates a ripple that reaches far into every corner of our state’s economy – from hardware stores to restaurants, gyms and even tourism. Fans still travel to Wilmington today to visit locations from the classic TV show Dawson’s Creek, which filmed its first episode 20 years ago. That’s pretty special. Just imagine what might happen if we were proactive about showcasing our legacy as a film production location. Signage and promotions could enhance that traveler experience and encourage more visitors.
 
Years ago, I would have stopped there, but thanks to the thought leaders who have helped develop the Cucalorus Connect Conference, I now have a deeper understanding of the economic forces that make the film industry so powerful. This is the result of a rather odd collision – a traded sector industry that operates within what we now call the “Gig Economy.”
 
Like other traded sector employers, film productions employ highly skilled workers and offer them premium wages.
 
The industry was legendary in that way when I graduated from Duke University in the mid-90s. It had a reputation for paying at least twice as much as other employers for the same skills as a trade-off for the long hours and the intense, but wildly creative, work. The icing on the cake: every two months or so you got a few weeks off until the next production started. Creative and entrepreneurial, film industry professionals used those gaps in employment to transform downtown Wilmington into an entertainment destination and to launch countless businesses, including Cucalorus.
 
This employment pattern is one reason that economic leaders at the state level so profoundly misunderstood the impact of the industry when they began examining tax incentive programs in 2014. I’m not sure how useful it is to unravel the countless ways that we made it difficult to attract film productions, but clearly the grant program that replaced our previous incentive has been too narrow to deliver significant results.
 
We’ll need a renewed effort to convince our leaders in Raleigh to consider moving back to the old incentive program. The film industry is a powerful economic driver with nearly uncountable positivebenefits and we’ve invested way too much to let it go without a continued fight. Writing to your legislators and requesting a return to a tax incentive package would be a good start.
 
We’ll also need to make stronger efforts to retain some of the talented directors and producers that we’re training across the UNC system.
 
Georgia’s emergence as the number one production location in the U.S. should be seen as a bonus too. Since we’re just a short drive away and offer distinct advantages (living at the beach!!), many producers and studio execs will choose Wilmington over Atlanta once we have a competitive incentive program. Creating jobs and bolstering the economy is rarely so easy.
 
Dan Brawley is the chief instigating officer of the Cucalorus Festival, an international celebration of filmmaking, performance and technology in Wilmington.
 
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Chris coudriet headshot 300x300 10211545555

Lessons Learned from a False Alarm

Chris Coudriet - New Hanover County Government
Brett

Don’t Be Part of the Student Loan Problem

Brett Tushingham - Tushingham Wealth Strategies
20180514 104209 51418120638

'I Hate...'

Steve Adams - School of Learning Arts

Trending News

Area Firm's Product Makes The Good Morning America Cut

Cece Nunn - Oct 17, 2018

Apartment Tenants Displaced By Storm Still A Concern, Officials Say

Cece Nunn - Oct 15, 2018

ILM Traffic Drops In September

Christina Haley O'Neal - Oct 16, 2018

CFCC Awarded Its Largest Grant

Johanna Cano - Oct 17, 2018

NHRMC Submits Plans For Emergency Water Well

Johanna Cano - Oct 15, 2018

In The Current Issue

Using Tech To Fight Tech-savvy Scammers

Fraud perpetrators commonly use technology: hacking, phishing and identity theft, for instance, to gain access to banking systems or account...


Mainstay Off The Main Drag

For Port City Chop House, 1981 Eastwood Road, quality and consistency have kept the lights on, the grills hot and the booths full for decade...


Novant Health Adjusts Minimum Pay Rate

Novant Health recently announced an adjustment to its current minimum wage in North Carolina from $11 to $12.50 per hour. The change benefit...

Book On Business

The 2018 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2018 Power Breakfast - Dishing on the Restaurant Biz
2018 WilmingtonBiz Expo - Keynote Lunch with Eric Dinenberg, Rouse Properties
2017 Health Care Heroes