My morning errand interupted by RUDE film incentives

On my way to the post office, I was walking towards the state capital and saw a crowd of people.  Normally walking in a downtown area there are crowds of people around a number of amusing things found in city streets, so I thought nothing of it.  To my surprise, a man in a cowboy hat approached me and told me to walk somewhere else and to “MOVE” in an extremely rude manner.  He directed me to STEP INTO MOVING TRAFFIC to avoid the event everyone was staring.  I safely crossed the street to be met with a line of yellow taxi cars with stickers and posted signs for Washington D.C..  A strange scene as I am walking in downtown Raleigh.

Walking around the ‘scene’ that I was forced to avoid, I saw a large amount of cameras and vans holding lights of varying sizes leading me to realize they were filming something.  On my return to the office, I saw this same rude man yelling at visitors on the capital grounds looking at monuments and statues.  When returning to the office, I found they were filming Showtime’s series, Homeland, through this news article.  (If you look at the pictures you can see the rude cowboy hat man)

I do not watch the show, but the article explained the show is set in the Washington D.C., the reason for the strangely labeled taxi cabs.  So, I started thinking – how is this filming in NC going to attract people to NC or help our economy?  A lot of the film incentive advocates state people will travel to North Carolina to see the location of where the show/movie was filmed.  Ok, that works for a movie that is actually set and filmed in NC – but this is set in DC.  So unless someone looks it up and is a huge fan, the tourism will go to Washington D.C.

When looking at the Dept. of Revenue’s Film Credits totals (As of April 5, 2013), the show ‘Homeland’ had received $7,591,215 worth of taxpayer dollars in incentives, that’s 25% of total spending on the production in 2012.  This is not the total number of dollars we will give the show in total, as the film incentives can be spread across multiple years.  In more broad terms, the film incentives cost to North Carolina’s General Fund in fiscal year ending 06/30/12  was $12,192,275, and the cost to General Fund in fiscal year ending 06/30/13 as of 04/05/13 is $48,814,616.

So, next time you see a movie and it was filmed in North Carolina – just remember you are paying higher taxes so they can create a scene from D.C. or another town in NC with YOUR tax dollars.  Not to mention encourage people to jump into traffic or not visit their state capital to stay out of their filming. I think if i was receiving 25% of my total production costs from taxpayers, I might be nicer to them as they pass on the street.

Sarah Curry

Sarah Curry is Director of Fiscal Policy Studies at the John Locke Foundation.

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