North Carolina is mounting its own defense against the loss of film business to Canada as state legislators this summer will introduce a bill that would give producers a 15% rebate on wages paid to local crews, with an annual cap of $200,000 per production.

Plans are also under way to renew funding of the hotel rebate for stays over 31 days and for no-fee filming on state property.

While the rebate doesn’t match the 22% labor rebate offered in Canada, Vicky Hunt, who heads the North Carolina Film Task Force, said it’s a “reasonable, yet enticing offer that narrows the gap between Canada and North Carolina.”

According to Hunt, the state is third in production behind California and New York, but suffered an 8% reduction in revenue last year.

Passage of the bill is anticipated, Hunt said. “We basically want to say, ‘Hollywood, we want your business.’ ”

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The city of Wilmington, U. of North Carolina at Wilmington and New Hanover County are waiving location fees charged to production companies that use their respective facilities. Move is an effort to preserve one of the region’s major industries.

The city and county have been charging about $350 per day for use of their facilities. The university, where the TV series “Dawson’s Creek” is lensed, charges approximately $1,000 a day.

Although location fees will be dropped, production companies will still be responsible for associated costs such as security, traffic control and physical plant support.

“With the collective decision to waive fees, this sends a strong message to production companies that this area is serious about the film, television and commercial business,” said Wilmington Regional Film Commission director Johnny Griffin. The panel has been instrumental in trying to create a local incentive package for production companies.

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Orlando, Fla., which likes to boast of its Disney-MGM and Universal Studio back lot locations, can add Academy Award-winning visual effects to its list of local film assets.

Art David, prexy of Orlando-based Victory FX Animations Studios, shared in the best visual effects nod for his work on “The Matrix.”

David was commissioned to help with the signature shot of the film, called “bullet-time,” from Manex Visual Effects. Taking 14 days to perfect the motion of a two-second section of that shot, he said, “I loved every minute of it.”

David’s career has taken him from local TV to delivering special visual effects for feature pics such as “Contact,” “Die Hard 3,” “Michael” and “Starship Troopers.”

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Sarah Bruce has traded in her hat as assistant director of the Film Commission for the Dallas/Fort Worth region, but true to her Texan roots, she is championing the Women in Film/Dallas 2000 Project Grant & Tuition Scholarship Program.

Bruce, a development-creative affairs exec for an L.A.-based production-distribution company, serves as VP of scholarships for the project and is designing an internship-training program to provide opportunities for Women in Film.

Scholarships and project grants will be awarded at the annual WIF/D Topaz Award and Scholarship Banquet held in Dallas in September.

For more info, contact Women in Film/Dallas at (214) 954-4488 or e-mail the org at wifdal@nkn.net.