Tax incentives to draw biz

This time it’s a wrap. North Carolina’s Gov. Mike Easley signed House Bill 1522, making official the state’s 15% refundable tax credit on goods, services and labor for film and TV productions.

While the delay of the bill — originally skedded for passage last year (Daily Variety, June 15, 2005) — may have temporarily stymied production, the state still reaped $300 million in film and TV production revenue last year.

“This legislation is critical to strengthening the movie and television production business in North Carolina,” Easley said.

It is also designed to keep the state in step with regional neighbors like South Carolina, which also offers a healthy 15% rebate.

With the bill’s signing, some productions have “refocused their sights on us now that the picture has changed,” according to Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.

North Carolina film and TV production revenue increased nearly 22% last year and accounted for 22,000 jobs, according to the state’s Dept. of Commerce.

Columbia Pictures’ “Talladega Nights” was shot in Charlotte and Rockingham last year, and the WB’s “One Tree Hill” — which moves to the CW for its fourth season — is lensing at Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington.

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Rocky Mountain High … Montana. That state’s expansive landscape has become more accessible to film production with the Big Sky on the Big Screen Act, an incentive package initiated by Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

The act, a first in the state’s filming history, offers a 12% rebate based on Montana labor hires and applies to the first $50,000 in wages paid per resident.

Productions can also take an 8% rebate on qualified expenditures for production budget costs, including but not limited to hotel and lodging, production equipment rental, fuel costs, expendables, lumber/construction materials, vehicle rentals and food and catering costs. The incentives apply to all types of film, video or TV production.

Montana has no sales tax, which can also be a significant factor in on-location shoots.

“The state and federal tax incentives, coupled with an able crew base, a willing film office and diverse locations, will make Montana a heavyweight contender in the fight to attract production money back to the United States,” said Christopher Cronyn, film producer and vice chair of the Montana Film and Television Advisory Council.

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