July 30, 2014

Under the Dome finds right mix of locations and tax breaks for film

Under the Dome, a novel about a small town suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by a huge transparent dome, is set in Maine, like nearly all of Stephen King’s novels. But filming a television adaptation in King’s home state of Maine was out of the question. Aside from the inhospitable winter season, Maine does not provide the kind of competitive film tax credit that is increasingly vital to producing television dramas – like North Carolina does. Producers considered Texas and Louisiana, but decided to base the CBS series in Wilmington, which offered the right mix of locations and tax breaks. Under the Dome began filming its first episode in Wilmington last week, the latest in a string of high-profile television shows and movies to take root in North Carolina, which offers a 25 percent refundable tax credit toward film production expenses.

“You’re limited by the amount of money that you have, so that’s really critical,” said Neal Baer, an executive producer and showrunner for Under the Dome. “Every penny is important.” The state’s diverse locations and geography also helped, Baer added. “We wanted it to be Anywhere, USA. North Carolina really works for that. We need forest, we need a small town and we need water – we have all that.” The article, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, included mentions of other films that have shot in North Carolina, along with the economic impact of the film industry in the state.

Under the Dome is filming on a sprawling soundstage facility in Wilmington operated by EUE/Screen Gems. Other locations will include the nearby city Southport, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and the town of Burgaw, whose quaint city hall will figure in the program. “We’re really excited,” said Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office. “It speaks to North Carolina’s attractiveness as a film location and to the quality of its crews and infrastructure.”

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