WECT INVESTIGATION: film jobs hard to count - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

WECT INVESTIGATION: film jobs hard to count

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A WECT investigation found that even industry officials are hesitant to say how many film jobs are created. A WECT investigation found that even industry officials are hesitant to say how many film jobs are created.
Johnny Griffin of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission focuses on total payroll, not job counts. Johnny Griffin of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission focuses on total payroll, not job counts.
The crew directory maintained by the Wilmington Regional Film Commission lists nearly 850 active members. The crew directory maintained by the Wilmington Regional Film Commission lists nearly 850 active members.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Film and television productions reportedly spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars last year in southeastern North Carolina, but a WECT investigation found that even industry officials are hesitant to say how many jobs were created.  

"It's easy to say that an individual production spent 16 million dollars or 20 million dollars in payroll," said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. "We don't try and say how many people earned that payroll because it's just too hard to really kind of pin that down and get an exact figure from it."    

Another reason it's hard to get exact employment figures is because in addition to the people on the productions' payrolls, Griffin says big films also create new hires at local businesses like hotels.

 "So now they have to bring on additional staff and additional housekeeping and additional management to deal with that additional increase in business," he said. 

Last year, three dozen productions filed for state incentives. Their claims still have to be audited, but producers say they spent nearly $80 million in wages and hired almost 20,000 people. 

Dividing the total pay by the total jobs reveals an average wage of less than $4,000. But Griffin says that math is misleading.  

"You could have a job on a television series that lasts for nine months, and so you may classify that as one job, but then you've got someone who worked on that production for one day as an extra. So if you're counting both of those as jobs, it's really not a fair comparison," he said. 

Many film jobs pay as much as $35 per hour plus overtime and benefits, according to Griffin. 

Like many workers, people in the film industry piece together jobs to make a living.     

"You may work for ten different companies during the course of a year, but compile that together and that gives you a very good income that you live on and you raise your family on," he said. 

The crew directory maintained by the Wilmington Regional Film Commission lists nearly 850 active members. 

Copyright 2013 WECT. All rights reserved. 

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