Carolina Film Alliance

Photo by Katie Manning on Unsplash.

Carolina Film Alliance Turns the Tide for the Film Industry

“It’s nearly impossible to get legislation done without a government affairs firm lobbying on your behalf.” Those words of wisdom from Senator Paul Campbell from South Carolina’s 44th District never rang truer than during the 2017-18 legislative session. It seems the Carolina Film Alliance’s decision to join forces with Tompkins, Thompson & Brown, Columbia’s newest government relations firm, in promoting the film industry directly to state legislators, is already seeing results.

Sen. Campbell believes CFA President Linda Lee is a doggedly effective force advocating for the state’s film industry. Her efforts during the last fiscal year combined with the relationships built by TT&B partners J. Warren Tompkins, Michael Thompson and Boyd Brown, through their years of combined service in South Carolina state government, resulted in a change of language in the Motion Picture Incentives Act. The result is more wage and supplier incentives being available to production companies eager to film movies and television series in South Carolina in the coming year. Rumor has it that Mr. Mercedes, an AT&T Original Series filmed in the Charleston/North Charleston area, is already considering it’s third season thanks to the availability of these cash rebates.

According to Brown, a few extra million in the South Carolina Film Commission’s coffers during the new fiscal year is great, but continuing to educate the general assembly about the economic impact this “clean industry” has across the state is the primary goal of the CFA/TT&B on-going effort. Brown says that when you take the politics out of it, supporting this industry makes sense to legislators interested in creating more jobs in the state. “Going forward,” he says, “our plans are to increase the incentives and codify this money in future years and we will continue to use our relationships to get this done.”

For set designer and vice-president of the Carolina Film alliance, Missy Ricker says continuing to promote the film industry across South Carolina is vital to the state as a whole. Her department is allocated $20,000 to $30,000 per episode which usually takes one week to shoot for a series to put together what’s needed for each scene. So on a 12 episode series, just one department drops around $300K on a project. “Other departments such as props, locations, wardrobe, grip & lighting, transportation, etc. also have many thousands of dollars allocated for a series,” explains Ricker. “And most vendors are South Carolina-based. They have past experience with the film industry and this works well for timing issues in that these businesses can anticipate needs and therefore be better prepared for a demanding project.”

Linda Lee, President, Carolina Film Alliance.

Senator Paul Campbell with Linda Lee.

“As a result of all the work done by the Carolina Film Alliance, our legislators are looking at the film industry from the same standpoint as they look at a Boeing, a Volvo or a BMW,” states Amy Heath, the director of tourism for the city of North Charleston. “The economic impact to the city is huge, whether it’s from hiring locals, or using our accommodations, or spending money on retail. And what is so great about the film industry is that when they leave, they don’t leave a footprint. They film, do what they need to do, then they’re out.”

“We wish to thank the legislature and Governor McMaster for supporting the film and television industry in South Carolina,” says Lee. “But this is just the beginning of what we can do as a unified community.”

The Carolina Film Alliance is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to building the motion picture, television and creative digital media industries in South Carolina. The CFA is focused on both the expansion of effective South Carolina Film incentives to attract film, television and commercial products to the state and providing its membership networking and professional development opportunities with which to build their skills and careers.

Individuals and companies involved with or interested in the film industry are urged to become members and to get involved with the organization’s on-going efforts to promote the industry in South Carolina. Please visit carolinafilm.com for more information.

Missy Ricker, Vice-President, Carolina Film Alliance.

Amy Heath, North Charleston Tourism Director.

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