(Star-News (Wilmington, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 08--Amid continued deliberation about the future of the state's film incentive program, the N.C. Film Office will soon face the loss of its leader.
Aaron Syrett, director of the film office, confirmed Tuesday that he will step down from the position July 31.
In recent months, film industry recruitment and retention, the main focus of the film office, has been named as one of the many functions Gov. Pat McCrory's administration wants to oversee under the N.C. Partnership for Economic Development, a new public-private partnership that will work in tandem with state government.
According to Syrett, the Department offered him a position in this new partnership that he opted not to accept.
"My staff and I have helped built a strong industry throughout the state and I am most proud of that," Syrett said. "I'm sad to leave, but I believe I am leaving this state better than I found it."
Syrett has worked as a film commissioner for 15 years in two states -- North Carolina and Utah. He accepted the position of director of the N.C. Film Office in spring 2007, following the retirement of Bill Arnold, who held the position for 26 years.
Syrett has not yet decided what he will do next but is currently "weighing the options" with his family.
Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, worked alongside Syrett both within the state and on coast-to-coast business ventures to lure potential production clients to the state. Calling Syrett "a great guy to work with," Grrifin also remembers his experience with film in Utah being a welcome addition to the state.
"He arrived at a time when the film incentive was changing," Griffin said. "We have seen a great heyday of film production here in the years that he has been in the position."
Syrett's exit comes at yet another time of change for the state's industry, as the fate of film incentives remains a hot topic in the General Assembly.
The state's incentive program, which gives qualifying productions a 25 percent refundable tax credit for the money spent on certain production services in the state, is set to expire at the end of the year.
"We're in a transition," Griffin said. "We don't know what the new incentive will look like in the future. It's a crucial time for us."
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