Charleston remains a film industry attraction

Charleston remains a film industry attraction
July 25 06:19 2018 Print This Article



Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down, Pineapple Express) is back in Charleston to film another HBO show titled Righteous Gemstones, starring himself and John Goodman (Roseanne, The Big Lebowski). He recently filmed both Vice Principals and Halloween in the area, so there must be something attracting the star to return. South Carolina offers relatively good wage rebates for qualified productions: 25% for residents and 20% for non-residents. Film Production Capital, which rates each state’s tax incentive packages for production, gives South Carolina 3 out of 5 stars. This puts the state on par with California, New York, and Hawaii, but doesn’t compare to Georgia’s 5-star rating, which has attracted a lot of film production to the South.

Last year’s film production in South Carolina was booming, so much so that the industry hit the limit for production tax incentives at $15 million. This is great for the business it has brought to our area, but there obviously needs to be a change if we are going to keep up with the growing industry and the alluring incentives of our neighboring states. North Carolina, for instance, recently increased their film tax incentives budget to $31 million in an effort to compete with Georgia. Alternatively, South Carolina’s incentive package has been frozen for more than a decade.

Clearly, incentives are not the only factor bringing production to South Carolina. Bryan Ransom, CEO of Moondog Animation, a local animation studio that moved to Mt. Pleasant from France, explained what brought the studio to the Charleston area, “We were looking at LA, New York, and Ontario, and we were actually leaning towards Ontario because there’s a lot of animation up there. And then JM (Moondog’s COO) piped up one day and said, ‘It’s freezing cold, and I hate the cold!’ and I said, ‘Well, what idiot said it was alright to go to Canada because it’s freezing cold there nearly all the time?’” On his final decision to locate in the Charleston area, Ransom said, “It was actually a balance between the economic side because, it’s probably 20 to 30% cheaper to live here than it is in New York, Ontario, or LA and the fact that we can be a medium-big fish in a small pond.”

A 2008 study on the film industry incentives by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina shows that South Carolina businesses received $3.68 for every $1 spent on the supplier rebates and South Carolina workers received $1.30 for every $1.00 spent on employee rebates. In 2010, Governor Mark Sanford vetoed the film incentives, and cast members from the TV series Army Wives lobbied the General Assembly to over-ride the veto, which it did. The production company claimed that their operation has a $120 million economic impact on the Charleston area and provided free advertising for local destinations.


MacKenzie Fowler is a political science major at the National University of Ireland at Galway. She is a two time award winning historical documentary filmmaker who represented South Carolina at the national level in Washington D.C. The former Wando High School student and Mt. Pleasant resident has a passion for politics and local awareness.