by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
You can almost count upon op-eds and editorials written in favor of keeping North Carolina’s film incentives to cite popular, well-known North Carolina productions such as “Bull Durham” (1988), “Dirty Dancing” (1987), “Last of the Mohicans” (1992), “Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003), etc. in making their case. Even though those examples preceded the incentives by years, even decades. I’ve even seen “Being There” (1979) cited.
I’m beginning to think it’s not exuberance on the part of the incentives’ supporters, or mere oversight, but instead a gamble on readers’ ignorance of the reality of state film incentives — a mad rush from 2002 to 2009 with lots of buyer’s remorse and several states dropping out since. North Carolina’s program began in 2005 and was made more generous to production companies in 2010.
Today’s editorial in the N&O by film critic Lewis Beale — which, incidentally, concludes with yet another example of the “vibrant industry that will be destroyed if you take it off life support” self-defeating argument — cites the following:
The piece issues the following warning:
if the tax incentive is eliminated, I can guarantee that we will be thrust into a noncompetitive position when it comes to attracting film production. And after a nearly 30-year run as a very popular production location, North Carolina will become a film industry backwater.
This “30-year run” has involved tax incentives only for the last 10 years.