Holy City back on Hollywood's radar

By Stefanie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Movie-making is a multi-million dollar industry and one that's slipped away from the Lowcountry over the past few years.

Despite the beautiful landscapes, architecture, and history - film projects were being passed over in the Palmetto State because of the lack of permanent tax breaks. But thanks to new legislation, South Carolina is back on Hollywood's radar.

Harald Galinski, a studio director at Studio Charleston, says that Charleston hasn't had a big movie production since 2011.

"The incentives are really now-a-days, a must for major productions," Galinski said.

He also says the lack of incentives over the years has cost the state big bucks.

"I think we've lost a lot, millions and millions, and the numbers in our neighboring states shows because they've picked up so much business," Galinski says. "If we would not have had these changes of these new incentives, Studio Charleston would probably not have been able to survive."

That's now all about to change. Governor Nikki Haley signed the South Carolina Motion Picture Incentive Act into law on May 9.

"It's so critical because Reckless is a pilot that was done in South Carolina, it was based in Charleston, and if we hadn't passed this bill there was a good chance that this film would have been done in Savannah," Senator Paul Campbell says.

Campbell led the charge, sponsoring the film incentive bill at the Statehouse. Campbell says the idea to double some of the rebates for film production costs in the state was a no-brainer.

"We've got a lot of people in the film business but they've had to go out of state to work. I want to bring them home, but more than that, I want to create opportunities for South Carolinians here today to work in the film industry."

The new legislation increases the existing film incentives from a 15 to 30 percent rebate on expenses for local vendors, an increase of 15 to 20 percent rebate on wages and gives an additional 5 percent rebate on wages paid to South Carolina residents.

"I want to bring Hollywood to South Carolina. I want to bring Hollywood to Charleston," Senator Campbell says.

That's music to local actor Bubba Bryant's ears. Bryant played the role of Jeremy Sherwood on the hit Lifetime series Army Wives.

But when Bryant's character got killed off on Season 5 he says despite his success it was tough finding acting gigs.

"In the small market of Charleston, or South Carolina, we don't have that many productions. So when you are competing with Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina that has tax incentives, of course films are going to go there," Bryant says.

Bryant for now works at a bar in Downtown Charleston but says he looks forward to getting back into costume and to his craft.

"Now that we have these tax incentives that are going to stay for a long time, the sky is the limit. Any actor in South Carolina, stick in there, we have films coming. They are on the way," Bryant says.

The television series Reckless based in Charleston was picked up by CBS for the fall. If the production films in the Lowcountry it's expected to bring some 50 to 70 million dollars to the local economy.

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