Lights, Camera, Lowcountry: A look at movies filmed in the Holy City

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lights, camera, Lowcountry! Charleston has become a prime destination for movie and television productions… but what draws producers to the Lowcountry?

Linda Lee, the President of the Carolina Film Alliance, explains that movie producers come to the state first for the incentives, second for the crew base, and third for the location.

Incentives include:

  • 30% rebate on in-state supplies
  • 25% rebate on out-of-state supplies
  • 25% rebate on in-state wages
  • 20% rebate on out-of-state wages

Lee says the state offers great benefits, but unfortunately has to turn away some business. “We turn away hundreds of millions of dollars from projects that want to come here but there is just no money left!”

South Carolina’s cap for incentives and rebates sits at $15.5 million—part of it comes from the general fund and another portion is taken from the state admissions tax. Lee believes legislation should be passed to increase the state’s budget.

“We need to raise the cap, so to speak, to get more rebate money because that just means more business, more jobs, and more expenditures all over the state.” 

Linda Lee, President of the Carolina Film Alliance

In the last 5 years, South Carolina had $372.9 million in direct spend and has issued $79 million in rebates. However, Lee says incentives and rebates weren’t introduced as a way to make money in the state. “They were created to make money in the communities in which they land because wherever a film goes, they spend so much money and they hire people! They hire anybody; they hire everybody, not just crew!”

Heather McDowell, the Director of Cypress Gardens says their famous black water swamp has housed its fair share of business. Numerous movies have ties to the swamp and drive tourism in the area.

“We have people come from all over to see where The Notebook was filmed, where the Patriot was filmed. It’s just getting our name out there; it definitely benefits us.” 

Cypress Gardens isn’t the only feature backdrop in films. The College of Charleston, Boone Hall Plantation, King Street, and beaches have all made big screen debuts.

Some productions include Army Wives, Southern Charm, Vice Principals, The Righteous Gemstones, Cold Mountain, Dear John, Halloween (2018), The Patriot, Swamp Thing and many more.

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