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Vassar: Two Upcoming TV Productions To Add Estimated $55M To Area Economy

By Jenny Callison, posted Jan 8, 2016
EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington will soon see production begin on two new TV series. (Photo courtesy of EUE/Screen Gems)
The two new television series scheduled to begin production in Wilmington will likely pump about $55 million into the local economy during the first two quarters of 2016, according to Bill Vassar, executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington.

TNT’s Good Behavior announced in December it would return to Wilmington to shoot its 10-episode first season. History Channel confirmed earlier this week it had chosen Wilmington as the location for production of an eight-episode first season of Six, an action drama about Navy SEAL Team Six. It opens offices at the EUE/Screen Gems lot on Monday; Good Behavior has already reopened its offices, Vasser said.

Vassar’s estimate of economic impact takes into account the two projects’ local payroll as well as expenses – from lodging to supplies to equipment, all purchased from area vendors, Vassar said Friday.

Several hundred area residents could be on that local payroll, according to Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.

“A typical crew for each show would be 100 to 150 people, but when you factor in the construction crew, that usually bumps the number up to about 200,” he said Friday.

Because both shows will be shooting at roughly the same time, each will need its own crew.

After completing local production of its pilot in October, for which it qualified for up to $1.25 million in incentives money from the state, Good Behavior dismantled its sets and stored them at EUE/Screen Gems, but they will need to be reassembled and possibly additional sets built, Griffin said.

Producers for Six had been in talks with EUE/Screen Gems for several months in 2015 before confirming earlier this week that the project was a go. Vassar said that EUE/Screen Gems’ undeveloped property adjacent to the studios was  attractive to Six producers.  

“They can go on location there and dress it to fit the story,” he said, adding that both Under the Dome and Sleepy Hollow took advantage of the company’s wooded property as well. “It means they don’t have to go off the lot. It saves travel money because everything stays in one place.”

The two projects represent the only activity currently on tap in the Wilmington area, but inquiries from other studios are coming in, Vassar said.

Griffin confirmed that he has talked with producers for a number of film and television projects.

“We’re at the point where we have sent out photos and answered a lot of questions for different productions,” he said. “They are looking at different places as well.”

Pilot season is approaching, Griffin added.

“From now until mid-February is when those decisions start to be made. I expect, in the next four to five weeks, that we may start to get some of those calls regarding potential pilots,” he said. “We usually take a trip to Los Angeles in late January or early February; it’s a perfect time.”

Griffin said that when he and other state film officials went to Los Angeles in October to talk with producers, they “planted the seed” that, thanks to the state legislature’s approval of $60 million in film and entertainment grant funds in the biennial budget, North Carolina was back with film incentives following the December 2014 expiration of an earlier tax credit incentive program.

The message Griffin said he and the others got from studios in October was “You will be on our list.”
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