Staying for the credits is interesting when you live in Charlotte USA.
The Charlotte region has a starring role in film and television production, a role which generates an estimated $500 million economic impact annually. Dozens of feature and independent films and television programs and movies are shot in the region, including Leatherheads and The Color Purple. The new Showtime TV thriller Homeland is filmed in the region, and Cabarrus County was ground zero for filming the sure-to-be blockbuster movie based on the wildly popular book The Hunger Games.
Charlotte USA is attractive to filmmakers and related businesses for several reasons, says Beth Petty of the Charlotte Regional Film Commission. Home to three major equipment companies, numerous sound stages and a deep crew base, the region has strong roots in the industry. In addition, Charlotte USA offers outstanding accessibility with more than 700 daily nonstop flights to nearly 140 cities — including five flights daily to Los Angeles.
Charlotte's Location Draws in the Film Industry
“Perhaps one of our best attributes is that we have an Anywhere USA look,” says Jeff Smith, founder, director and cinematographer of Charlotte-based Oasis Films. The region offers easy access to beaches, mountains, grassy flatlands and hundreds of miles of lake shoreline, as well as four distinct seasons and year-round mild temperatures.
“We make it easy for people to film here,” says Petty, who has recruited numerous films to the region including Talladega Nights and The Patriot. Petty says the community’s assets range from competitive incentives to a crew base with advanced skills — a factor Smith says is key.
“We have wonderful technicians in this market, really good ones with impressive resumes,” Smith says. “Sure, some of our people have migrated out to LA, but a lot of LA people have also migrated here for our quality of life. There never seems to be a shortage of good techs around. And that extends towards talent as well. Maybe I'm biased because I work here, but I really feel like we have some wonderful actors and actresses in our market and a lot of them show up regularly on some pretty big-name projects.”
The quality of life in the Charlotte region plays a supporting role in the success of the industry. “When our region is under consideration for projects, we’re asked about what’s available for people to do when they aren’t working,” Petty says. “Here, we offer concerts and cultural activities, professional and college sports, excellent golf courses, outdoor recreation and much more.”
Petty says film is a growth industry for the 16 counties in the Charlotte USA region. “It’s an expanding industry for us. We have both indigenous and new business, and the support network is in place,” she says, noting the region has cultivated a stable of film-related specialty businesses in everything from production to photography.
The law of unintended consequences works in Charlotte’s favor. “Film is a creative industry, one that brings a lot of talented people to our region and helps develop the talents of our residents,” she says. “This level of creativity works to our advantage in attracting other industries that aren’t related to film. Businesses want to invest in a vibrant creative community. We have that here.”
Smith agrees. “Years ago I had an opportunity to go to LA and work in this business,” he says. “I decided against it and decided to make a go of it here in Charlotte. It's a decision I have never regretted.”