Despite weather, North Carolina sez it’s open for biz

Despite weather, North Carolina sez it's open for biz

It will take more than Hurricane Floyd, floods and snow storms to stop North Carolina film production. That’s the message the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development and Midway Airlines delivered last week at a New York media luncheon.

Film locations and tourism destinations across the state are in great shape, as well as sports development opportunities, said Gordon Clapp, executive director of tourism, film & sports development. N.C. wants to build on last year’s 65% growth in film production that hosted features such as Tom Hanks starrer “The Green Mile.”

The state’s industry infrastructure includes six studio complexes, 27 soundstages, 300 production and service companies and a 1,500-strong crewbase.

Screen Gems Studios, which, according to marketing veep Bill Vassar, boasts the largest U.S. film lot outside L.A., is part of N.Y.-based EUE/Screen Gems, an international film and video production organization with studios in N.Y, L.A. and Wilmington, N.C. Screen Gems N.Y. houses five studios ranging in size from 1,200 square feet to 10,000 square feet.

The N.C. facility, under the direction of studio prexy Frank Capra Jr., recently completed an 18,000 square-foot stage, adding to the existing nine soundstages, which range in size from 7,000 square feet to 35,000 square feet.

Indigenous film production is also on the rise. Last year, 12 indie feature pics were written, financed, produced and filmed by N.C. film companies.

Amusement Park Entertainment Prods.’ feature “Trick Dribble” recently wrapped at Carolina Pinnacle Motion Picture Studios, located on a 315-acre Yanceyville, N.C., plantation. Pic is scripted by and stars former Harlem Globetrotter Tyrone “Hollywood” Brown and debuts Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.; ex-Globetrotter Larry “Gator” Rivers also stars. Storyline centers on the politics of organ donation and its effect on an urban community.

Pinnacle Studios boasts a 12-acre lake with lakehouse, 50,000 square feet of soundstages with 40-foot high grids, a 12,000-square-foot technical support building and a 16,000-square-foot office building for production personnel and post-production services.

* * *

The 33rd annual WorldFest Houston Intl. Film Festival has posted its call for entries which, this year, will be reduced to 45 screenings, thus increasing each entrants’ opportunity for being viewed, said chairman and founding director J. Hunter Todd. Deadline is Feb. 11. Fest is skedded for April 7-16. Complete entry kit can be found on its Web site: http://www.worldfest.org.

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