John Locke Foundation’s Jon Sanders weighs in on North Carolina’s film grant program and proposals for the program in the 2018 State Budget bill.

The good news is that the program will not be expanded overall, but the bad news is that it will not be reduced or cut and it will be easier for films to qualify. The changes in the bill are –

  1. Require less spending from a film production company producing a feature-length film to qualify for a grant. Under current law, the production company would have to spend at least $5 million to qualify.
  2. Offer more money for feature films. Under current law, the grant for feature films is capped at $5 million. The new budget would raise that cap to $7 million (a 40 percent increase).
  3. Offer more money for TV series, too. Under current law, the grant for TV series is capped at $9 million. The new budget would raise that cap to $12 million (a 33 percent increase).

Jon supports North Carolina getting rid of the film incentive program. Over one-third of states do not have film incentive programs and among those that do, only three are expanding their programs. North Carolina is one of those three.

States began getting rid of film incentives programs because when they study them, they find film incentives programs simply don’t work. They provide no net boost to the state’s economy while only helping outside film production companies and current workers.

They also provide no lasting benefits. Unlike other economic incentive programs, film grants don’t require recipients to earn them over time by hitting specific local job-creation targets or fulfilling other long-term promises. When the project is over, the grant money is gone and so are the jobs.

Several states have chosen to let their relatively freer tax climates do the recruiting for them when it comes to film production companies seeking a favorable business climate for filming. There’s no reason to think North Carolina isn’t competitive on those terms.

North Carolina does not need a film incentive program, our pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms would be enough attraction for film makers.