Towns Asked to Pitch in on Movie Recruiting
Lights. Camera. Action?
The Triangle Regional Film Commission is asking Moore County’s three largest municipalities — Aberdeen, Pinehurst and Southern Pines — to contribute $2,500 apiece to help attract movie, TV, video and new media productions.
“We feel that Moore County is one of the gems in our region,” Rob Shoaf, the commission’s managing director, told the Southern Pines Town Council at its monthly work session last Monday.
The commission was launched in September 2010 to cultivate, promote and support production of motion pictures, television programs, commercials, music videos and documentaries in the same 13-county region that constitutes the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, an economic development group.
Shoaf said the commission attracted nearly $4 million in production spending to the region in 2011, its first full year of operation. He predicted that number would likely double this year.
“And we’ve done it on an absolute shoestring budget,” he said. “This is a new industry for this part of the state and we’re trying to grow it. In a nutshell, we’re trying to keep this a viable operation.
“We would appreciate a donation of any amount.”
Shoaf later asked specifically for $2,500, and repeated the request the next day after presenting to the Pinehurst Village Council. He is scheduled to appear May 3 before the Aberdeen Town Board.
Southern Pines Mayor David McNeill said the Town Council would consider the request.
“But with budgets being as tight as they are, it’s difficult to fund every project,” McNeill said. “Certainly, we would like to see our town or others in the county considered for potential movie locations, so we support the commission’s work on our collective behalf.”
Pat Corso, executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress, attended the Pinehurst meeting and believes that Shoaf’s request was “positively received” by the council.
“I thought $2,500 was a very reasonable request, not outlandish,” Corso said. “We had nobody working proactively to attract the film industry to our area until the commission took the ball and started running with it, so we’re in the game.”
Corso believes that Moore County has “a leg up” on many of the other counties in the region.
“We’ve got some great historic settings here,” he said. “I think it’s all very positive for us.”
The Pinehurst Village Council hasn’t discussed the request publicly, but Mayor Nancy Roy Fiorillo said she thinks there is a future for Moore County when it comes to independent films, television shows and commeriicals.
“There is definitely an opportunity there,” she said. “We haven’t talked about it as a council but I think it is definitely something we should consider.”
Shoaf told the Southern Pines Town Council that although there has been no industry money spent in Moore County so far, four of the 20 photo packages requested by producers this year have been of the county.
“Those four projects have a combined budget of $25 million,” he noted.
Shoaf said the daily amount of on-location spending by the industry ranges from $7,500 for a low-budget reality TV show to about $260,000 for a high-budget feature film.
“It’s a huge economic development opportunity, because oftentimes you generate tourism on the back end because people want to see where certain scenes were shot,” he said.
That scenario is currently playing out in the portions of western North Carolina where “The Hunger Games” — which has earned almost $600 million worldwide since its release last month — was shot last summer.
“They got the home run,” said Caleb Miles, president and CEO of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).
Miles accompanied Shoaf earlier this week because the CVB has invested $2,000 in the commission so far, is set to give as much as $2,000 next month, and is currently considering an investment for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Miles said. “We need to divide and conquer. If you’re not represented by a professional film council, you’re not in the game. You don’t stand a chance.
“You have to put all of the recruitment tools in place, and we’re not there yet.”
Miles agreed with Corso that $2,500 wasn’t too much to ask.
“I think it’s a reasonable level of investment considering the potential upside,” Miles said. “It’s a process. We’re an unknown entity. Only time will tell.”
Senior writer Tom Embrey contributed to this story.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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