RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Even as they celebrate a lucrative season for productions filmed in North Carolina, including the acclaimed “George & Tammy” streaming series, state officials are doing what any good movie house would do: highlighting coming attractions.
Gov. Roy Cooper and officials from the North Carolina Department of Commerce crowed about the dozens of productions that brought millions in investment, thousands of jobs and much exposure to the state in 2022 – one of the best years ever (more on that later) – but this year already is off to a big start.
There are five productions underway in the state, a release from the Department of Commerce confirmed, and they will generate about $98.5 million and bring in about 9,700 jobs. They also have been given incentives by the state.
“Following a successful year, it’s great to have multiple projects already making an impact in the state in 2023,” said Guy Gaster, director of the North Carolina Film Office. “It’s no longer a secret that our state is wide open for filming, and we look forward to continuing to build off our successes in 2021 and 2022.”
Those five films that are underway in one of the state’s venerable categories – a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie – two made-for-streaming series, one independent film and a TV series with no designated channel. Each received state incentives. They are:
- The Hallmark entry could have been an easy guess: “A Biltmore Christmas,” which stars “The Waltons” daughter Mary Beth McDonough among others, is about a writer researching a movie script for a holiday movie being remade. It has been approved for a grant of up to $1.087.5 million and is scheduled to be aired this year.
- “Zoey 102” recently concluded filming in Wilmington for broadcast on Paramount+. A sequel to “Zoey 101,” this is about a group of high school friends who reunite for a wedding and stars Jamie Lynn Spears, better known as Britney Spears’ younger sister. This project was approved for $3.5 million.
- Another made-for-TV production, “A Bigger Slice of Sky,” about “a struggling musician who moves back to her childhood home and discovers a recording from her deceased father confessing to a crime,” is being filmed in and around southeastern North Carolina. There is no website that explains this project, which is eligible for a grant rebate of $375,000.
- On the other hand, “Summer Camp,” which will film in western North Carolina this year, doesn’t lack for star power. This independent film is about three friends from the sleep-away camp of their childhood who have a reunion. Oscar-winning actors Diane Keaton and Kathy Bates star with Alfre Woodard (who has been nominated). This film will get a grant rebate of up to $2,937,500.
- And one production under production has no immediate destination. “Blue Ridge” – maybe not to be confused with the 2020 film by the same name – is said to be about “a modern-Western hero in an Appalachian town that time and justice have forgotten.” This series will be distributed by Imagicomm Entertainment, which produced that 2020 movie for the INSP network. So maybe there is a connection. In any event, the production has been approved for a film grant of up to $1,582,473.
Last year filmmakers spent more than $258 million in North Carolina, which NC Commerce officials say is the sixth-biggest year since 2000, when they started to offer incentives. Cooper said those projects created 16,000 jobs, including 3,000 from “skilled production workforce.”
“North Carolina continues to attract great film, television, and streaming projects that bring good jobs to our state,” he said.
The 2022 list
Those projects include 74 for film, TV and streaming outlets that have been produced across the state and were among previously announced grant awards.
The biggest name in those is “George & Tammy,” the Showtime streaming series about the lives of country music singers George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Actor Jessica Chastain, who played Tammy, recently won the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series. She also was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Chastain won an Oscar last year for playing another woman named Tammy with NC connections: Tammy Faye Baker in the “Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Oh, George Jones was played by Michael Shannon played Jones.
The other productions announced as having received grants were:
- TV/streaming series: “Welcome to Flatch,” “Hightown” and “The Summer I Turned Pretty.”
- Studio feature-length films: “Untitled Please Don’t Destroy Project” and “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.”
- Independent feature-length films: “Boys of Summer,” “The Other Zoey,” “Providence,” “ABG and Her Monster,” “Site,” “Eric LaRue” and “Mother Couch.”
- Made-for-TV/streaming movies: “Heaven Sent” (filmed as “Second Time Around”) and “To Her, With Love.”
There were two other grantees that had not been announced but who were approved by grants at the year’s end.
“The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On,” a Netflix reality dating series filmed a full season in the greater Charlotte area and reserved a reserved grant of up to $1.57 million. “Untitled Band Pilot,” an independent music project filming around Wilmington, received a $625,000 film grant.
There also were several shows that stopped in North Carolina, at least for a visit. These include travel and reality shows and national commercials that used resources in the state. Such as:
- “Life in the Fast Lane”
- “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks”
- “Indian Matchmaker”
- “Beachfront Bargain Hunt”
- “90 Day Fiancé”
- “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”
- “Pawn Stars”
- “A Little Prayer”
- “A Song for Imogene”
National commercials were for, among others, Twisted Tea, Chevrolet, U.S. Cellular and Smartwool, the release said.
“Our film industry is an economic multiplier for North Carolina,” Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said. “These projects not only provide thousands of job opportunities for our talented workforce, but they also support the small business communities surrounding every production set, positively impacting the local economies where they film.”