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N.C. to boost effort to score film projects

North Carolina wants to become more appealing to Hollywood.

N.C. Film Office director Aaron Syrett said the office is updating its Web site (www.ncfilm.com) to make it easier for the film industry to learn about the state. The site also should make it easier for locals to find film-related jobs.

“We're becoming more user-friendly to Hollywood,” said Syrett, who took up his post in May 2007.

The film office had already revamped its Web site in January. Under new changes expected no later than Monday, the new Web site will feature a list of locations that may appeal to film executives. It also plans a directory of industry professionals and their resumes, which should be online by August.

The public part of the locations' link will work this way: Say a producer wants a bridge in his next project. He can type in the word “bridges” and photos of bridges in North Carolina will show up.

North Carolina has five regional film commissions – Charlotte, Durham, Piedmont Triad, Western and Wilmington – and each region will be represented.

The number of photos that can be posted is infinite, Syrett added.

The state Commerce Department said in 2005 that North Carolina ranked third in film revenues, at $235 million in direct spending in 2004. The state was behind California and New York. But that was before the incentives race went into full swing. Updated rankings were not available Wednesday, although the department Web site says North Carolina is one of the top 10 U.S. location destinations for film and television productions.

Among the movies filmed in North Carolina in recent years are George Clooney's “Leatherheads” and Will Ferrell's “Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby.” The television series “Dawson's Creek” saw filming in Wilmington, followed by “One Tree Hill,” now filming its sixth season.

North Carolina also is home to EUE Screen Gems in Wilmington, a 48-acre lot with nine sound stages that is the largest full-service motion picture facility east of California. Screen Gems also is seeking permits to build a new sound stage with a footprint of about 39,000 square feet.

Johnny Griffin, head of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, said the photos will let film executives peruse locations without having to call someone first. When a film or television pilot is in the early stages, secrecy can be paramount.

“Hopefully, we will also get people who don't want to pick up the phone and call us yet,” he said.

The Wilmington commission plans to publish photos of 2,500 locations on its regional site.

The Web site also will allow the office to present one “pitch” package of locations to a producer rather than having people in the various regional offices contact the producer separately. This will help the office address what Syrett determined was the film industry's No. 1 complaint about the Film Office: It was too confusing.

“Our systems will talk to each other so that we're not re-creating or duplicating efforts,” he said. “It makes North Carolina less confusing to Hollywood.”

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