A new bipartisan bill filed in the North Carolina legislature would be a multi-million-dollar boost to the state's film industry.

As proposed, the bill would add $34 million per year through 2023 to the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant. If passed, this would more than double the current annual allocation.  

The grant system replaced the film tax incentives. Those were eliminated in 2014 — a move that disappointed many in the industry who then saw work move to Georgia.

Democratic State Senator Paul Lowe represents some of Forsyth County and co-authored the bill.

He says with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in his district, having a more robust film financing package is a “no-brainer.”

“We're sending young people that are going through our film school, at School of the Arts, and getting degrees, and they're going to other places. Well, wouldn't it be wonderful if they could stay here?" says Lowe.   

Guy Gaster is the director of the North Carolina Film Office. He says that the industry took a hit early in the pandemic as productions were put on pause, but work is returning.

“Honestly, it created a nice launching pad, if you will, for this current calendar year ‘21. It really set us up," Gaster says. "The projects that were looking to start and didn't are now rescheduling; that's been a great way for us to bounce back quite strongly.”

Senate Bill 268 is a bipartisan effort, co-written by Republican Senator Michael Lee. He represents New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, a city known for its TV and movie productions.

There's no timeline for when the bill will be voted on, but the senators are hopeful that it will happen before the summer.

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