Wilmington film office attends locations event in L.A.
July 10, 2012By Alison Lee Satake
Wilmington Regional Film Commission director Johnny Griffin recently returned from an annual Locations Tradeshow in California. He met with location scouts, directors and studio executives who visited the North Carolina booth at the tradeshow that was held on the Sony lot.
“It was an incredibly productive trip,” Griffin said in a press release Tuesday. “The word on the street is that Wilmington is an excellent place to bring projects.”
Other state film commissions visited the North Carolina booth and acknowledged the boom in film business the state is experiencing from The Hunger Games to Iron Man 3.
“It’s good to stand there and be proud of what you have going on,” Griffin, who has attended the tradeshow for 13 years, said in a phone interview.
Locations used to be the biggest draw for producers to film outside of Los Angeles. But now, the No. 1 draw is the competitiveness of a state’s incentive program, Griffin said. Of the 200 exhibitors at the Locations Tradeshow, each posted its state’s incentive program.
“The incentives are a key part of where projects are going. A lot of people are saying they aren’t making as many creative decisions. They’re making business decisions,” he said. “The biggest question was, ‘When does it expire?’”
Since Griffin returned from the trade show two weeks ago, North Carolina legislators approved a one-year extension of the current film incentive that allows for a 25 percent reimbursement of in-state spending with a cap of $20 million for a feature film. The incentive will now expire on Jan. 1, 2015.
Producers of television series hoping their series will run over several years tend to be more concerned with the expiration date of the incentives than the film producers, he said. Warner Bros. is now in the process of setting up production of the television series Revolution in Wilmington.
About 2,500 people attended the tradeshow presented by the Association of Film Commissioners International including about 170 film commissions representing 40 countries. In addition to Wilmington, Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad film commissions were at the North Carolina booth.
Following the tradeshow, Griffin and N.C. film office director Aaron Syrett also had 14 sales and client service meetings over three days.
“We met with our friends who have done projects here before, spent time with clients who currently have productions in process, and with those who are looking for locations for future productions and are now considering Wilmington,” Griffin said.
Additionally, Griffin and Syrett attended the Produced By Conference with A-list talent and big name directors presented by the Producers Guild of America to network, he said.