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Film Council Discusses Crew Workforce

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 14, 2021
Film industry leaders, who are taking part in a state council, are looking to grow and diversify the production crew workforce. (File photo)

State and regional film leaders have a goal to help develop North Carolina’s workforce in the industry.

The topic was among the discussions Wednesday during a meeting of the Governor's Advisory Council on Film, Television and Digital Streaming.

Workforce development has been a focus for many in the industry as more opportunities arise in the future for production crews, said Suzi Hamilton, chair of the council. 

“We're in such tremendous demand in North Carolina that we have a good problem. And that problem is we are looking real hard at a need to build our crew resources in North Carolina,” Hamilton said.

This year, the state is looking at $331 million in production spending in North Carolina, said Guy Gaster, director of the N.C. Film Office, at the meeting.

“$331 million is our third-highest year since 2007,” Gaster said. “And I would be remiss if I did not say, as I said previously in February, this number is only going to go up. And I truly believe we will eclipse 2012’s high of $377 million by the time we are at the end of the year.”

Regional leaders have said this year could be one of the highest for local production spending, with the possibility to bring in around $300 million in Wilmington-area filming alone.

Gaster said this year is on track to become the third-highest year for the state in job creation through films and productions.

Seventy-two projects have said they plan to film in the state this year so far, including 18 projects that have been approved for the state’s grant rebate program, Gaster said.

Productions include series for traditional broadcast television, series and movies for streaming services, feature films, made-for-TV movies and drop-in travel-related shows. There are also more than 30 in-state projects, or local filmmaker projects, planned to take place in North Carolina this year, Gaster said.

The list this year is resulting in opportunities for more than 4,400 crew hires, 900 film talent (actors) and more than 14,800 extras across North Carolina, he said.

“It’s interesting. The spending doesn’t always mean more job opportunities … We are doing quite well on that jobs front as well as the spending,” Gaster said.

Area leaders are focusing more on bringing in more crew and diversity of the workforce, she said.

“All of those discussions have, as you can imagine, led us to other initiatives and other discussions that are clearly important in North Carolina. And the No. 1 thing that keeps popping up in our discussions is workforce development, with a focus on diversity and inclusion,” Hamilton said.

New Hanover County’s job training initiative -- using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan -- includes work in the film industry, Wilmington Regional Film Commission Director Johnny Griffin said during the meeting.

The initiative is happening through a partnership with StepUp Wilmington, he said.

“They’re currently working on a program trying to get that put together. [We] don’t have an exact timeline on that yet. But the positive news is that they do have money, they have included film, and [are] trying to help us get people trained up in the industry,” Griffin said.

On the diversity issue, Eric Johnson, a council member from Raleigh and senior vice president of sound and engagement at Trailblazer Studios, said that diversity and inclusion was a topic that a lot of major studios have "front and center."

“I know Disney and National Geographic are really focused on that," Johnson said. "Amazon, I imagine, Netflix and all of them are really looking at seeing an improvement in diversity in front of and behind the camera and the stories that are being told."

The meeting, which was held virtually, can be seen on YouTube.

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