Legislators see TV in action during Wilmington studio tour


Legislators see TV in action during Wilmington studio tour

By Hunter Ingram

StarNews Staff Posted

Oct 18, 2018 at 9:00 AM

The Port City has been starved for productions in recent years, although that appears to be changing

WILMINGTON — Local legislators got a chance to see the fruits of their legislative labor Wednesday during a tour of TV productions shooting on the EUE/Screen Gems Studios lot off North 23rd Street.

State Senators Michael Lee and Bill Rabon and House Representatives Ted Davis Jr. and Rep. Holly Grange all joined studio’s executive vice president Bill Vassar on an extensive tour of the lot that took them on the set of Hulu’s currently filming drama pilot “Reprisal” and DC Universe’s “Swamp Thing,” which is in pre-production.

The Republican legislators, all up for reelection in next month’s midterms, have all been strong supporters of the state’s film industry, fighting for more funding and softer restrictions for the state’s film grant program. The program, implemented in 2015 after the decline of the more lucrative film incentive program, now gets $31 million in funding each fiscal year to be distributed to productions that film and spend money locally.

Wednesday’s tour began on the set of “Reprisal,” which is approaching the end of its 16-day shoot. Should it be picked up for a full season, the show could stay local and film additional episodes. The legislators were given the chance to walk through was a nightclub-style set that was being prepped to host more than 100 background extras for a scene being shot Thursday. The club scene will feature trapeze artists, dancers and blues musicians.

From there, the legislators talked with crews members working on the set, screened footage shot for the series and were given update on recovery from the minimal damage suffered to the studios by Hurricane Florence. They also saw work carpentry work being done to prepare other sound stages for production on “Swamp Thing.”

That upcoming series will air exclusively on the premium DC Universe streaming service in 2019. Production is set to begin in November.

Throughout the tour, the legislators all expressed enthusiasm to see the studio lot lively with workers again after several years of slow business. In 2017, only one production, TNT’s “Good Behavior,” shot in the Port City. This year will likely end with three — “Reprisal,” “Swamp Thing” and the feature film “Words on Bathroom Walls,” which shot in the spring.

The year’s trio of projects comes after the legislature revised the language within the grant program to make it more flexible for smaller projects and more beneficial for pricier series. The language now provides a separate designation for made-for-TV movies to qualify for funding at $1 million of local spending, different from the $3 million required for feature films.

The cap on funding for TV series was also raised from $9 million to $12 million, a change that would allow shows with bigger price tags like “Swamp Thing” to reap more funding.

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com.