North Carolina is a state in the south-eastern segment of the US. It is situated about halfway down the East coast, roughly equidistant between New York and Florida. In 2010, it introduced attractive production incentives and has seen a significant influx of work as a result. In 2013, for example, it reported 60 productions equating to 5700 shooting days.
The main reason for coming to North Carolina is its incentives programme, which has helped to build and sustain a strong industry base. But there are also great locations, ranging from mountains and forest to historic town centres and coastline.
The state is easily accessible and is served by good transport links. There are four international airports as well as many more regional airports and helipads. There’s also a good rail service and well-maintained highways that connect with other parts of the US and run close to a range of scenic locations.
The North Carolina Governor’s office says TV and film production generated a direct in-state spend in excess of $254m and created more than 4,000 crew positions in 2013. TV series that shot in the state included the high-profile series Under The Dome, Sleepy Hollow, Banshee and Homeland.
As for film, titles included Tammy, Careful What You Wish For, The Ultimate Life and many more. Commercials for Mountain Dew, ESPN, NASCAR, Planters, Audi and Fiat also came to North Carolina.
Last year continued a run of success for the state. Other projects to base themselves here in recent times have included The Hunger Games and NBC series Revolution. Iron Man 3 also shot here, with a filming itinerary that included the Oak Island beach community, the towns of Rose Hill and Kenansville, urban Raleigh and suburban Cary. Of historical interest is the fact that Dirty Dancing, Blue Velvet and The Color Purple filmed here.
Permitting in North Carolina is generally an easy process but is handled differently by each government agency and individual jurisdiction. The North Carolina Film Office can assist in navigating through the various permit processes. On its website is a useful page which gives details of what is required for state roads, state parks, state buildings, private property, coastal areas, military bases and so on. For further details visit via this link.
According to the Film Office, North Carolina charges minimal, if any, fees to shoot on available state property such as government buildings in the Raleigh area, beaches, parks, lakes, historical sites, and other recreational areas. There could be fees if additional assistance is needed in the way of park personnel and law enforcement, varying by region within the state.
Aside from talking to the Film Office, it’s worth getting to know the regional film commissions in the Wilmington, Triangle, Piedmont Triad, Charlotte and Western regions of the state.
North Carolina offers several studio options to filmmakers. EUE/Screen Gems is located in Wilmington and is the largest studio complex with 10 stages ranging in size from 7200 sq ft to 37500 sq ft. Since 1985, more than 350 film, TV and commercial projects have shot on the lot, including Iron Man 3 for Marvel, The Conjuring, We’re the Millers, Under the Dome and Eastbound and Down.
One particular appeal of EUE/Screen Gems is its water tank facilities, which played its part in securing the movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Other key studio complexes across the state include Creative Network, Earl Owensby Studios and Trailblazer Studios.
The North Carolina Film Office website has a searchable locations database which gives a good idea of what’s on offer in “the Tar Heel State”. You can also get some good ideas from the Wilmington Regional Film Commission which cites “bridges, barns, small-town scenes, riverfront, shopping centres, beaches, playhouses, ocean, modern and traditional schools, marshlands, downtown buildings, turn-of-the-century architecture, college campuses, Victorian houses, fields, harbours, modern architecture, farms/farmlands, and more.”
Port city Wilmington is well-known to filmmakers for its range of locations, which include an all-American style Main Street, historical facades, grand buildings, riverbanks and beaches.
Also welcomed by filmmakers is the state’s climate. North Carolina's temperatures are mild most of the year, with an average wintertime temperature of about 42°F and a summer average of 79°F. There are relatively few severe storms, with only two-three Tornadoes and two hurricanes a year. On the upside, the state also enjoys sunshine about 210 days a year.
The local crew base in the Wilmington region has decades of experience with major film and TV productions. Crewmembers include grips, electricians, accountants, casting directors, camera technicians, special effects technicians, location managers, set decorators, and more. The North Carolina Film Office has a local crew database that contains over 700 professionals.
The Wilmington region is also home to companies that provide goods and services tailored to the industry. These include caterers, equipment rentals, construction companies, transportation services, audio and video firms, and hotels, which between them have serviced hundreds of productions.
According to the North Carolina Film Office, “Wilmington region has been an active production hub since the early 1980s and has the production infrastructure and experience to support big-budget feature films, TV series, independent films, commercials, and more.”
Equipment rental firms include Southeastern Camera. Opened in 1994, it is located 2 miles north of state capital Raleigh.