‘BANSHEE’ Actor Speaks Out Against North Carolina’s Film Incentive Cuts

The following Editorial was submitted to Nerd Nation by Jon Kingsley of ‘BANSHEE‘ and ‘THE NEPHILIM CHRONICLES‘:

Nearly 20 years ago in 1995, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina from just outside Jackson, Mississippi. The UFC had just happened over at Independence Arena (now known as Bojangles’ Colosseum), so as a Martial Artist since 4 years of age, I was stoked. Then I got here and the very same year, the North Carolina politicians outlawed it. They didn’t get involved with re-shaping it. They made it leave. Bottom line? It wasn’t in their line of sight to address as an issue, so they just swept it under the rug and hoped it would go away. 
I don’t really have to point out to what degree the UFC didn’t go away. 

That being said, I got involved in doing things with acting and film in November of last year here in North Carolina. I was involved in theatre in High School but didn’t do any of that at CPCC or Wingate University once here. I continued to pursue English and Public Speaking engagements for pressuring me to use those English skills, but that’s all. So, technically, my first engagement with acting in NC started in November. I enrolled in acting classes, got a basic understanding of how to find gigs, and I went to work. 

So, here we are about nine months down the road, and they’ve attacked the film industry. I just got my first TV style job through Tona B. Dahlquist Casting on BANSHEE like a HUGE amount of others in this area and the surrounding areas. Every other job I’ve taken in nine months has been for gratis on an indy project. Then North Carolina votes to get rid of the film incentives in this State. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t feel kind of like deja vu occurring on this issue.

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Now, am I going anywhere? Nope. MMA is back in town after a decade of being ostracized and a couple of yahoos who wouldn’t stop garnering support and chewing off representatives and senators ears off about it. They found a way to get the State paid through using the new rules and incorporating the state’s existing Boxing Commission to supply officials and therefore garner some wages towards the state for their use.

The film industry has been through ups and downs before and places like Wilmington and Charlotte still get people to come and film here. From the days of NELLSHALLOW HAL, and the UNDERWORLD series to the HUNGER GAMESHOMEFRONTS and BANSHEES of today’s situation, we simply are in the shadow of politicians who every now and then don’t understand where the money comes from and how things work here in this industry. 
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How to deal with it going forward? I think it’s HIGHLY important that the people that want to see ANY industry move forward is simply an organizing of the groups into competitive cells that represent the “Tarheel” nature of this area. We make good films, dammit. We have awesome SFX people. We have tons of unique locations that scream their resident city’s name. We have sound studios, sound stages, voice over studios, editing teams, production companies… all local and outside of this Hollywood production hoopla. 

If you want politicians to get this stuff firmly in their sites, give it a direct bearing on their constituents’ MONEY. I hate to say that it’s not as simple as what has bearing on their constituents, but the fact of the matter is that these guys do NOT make efforts to connect to the public anymore. They hire folks to tell them what people under their care are spending their money on and then use that data to determine how they should vote. You want them to look at the film industry as a viable and direct concern to their constituents? Spend money on local companies that need the attention. Blatantly show open favoritism to your surrounding areas when choosing which business to support. Film industry or not, that’s how you keep a business you love around for years. 

Want proof? Name any business that has been in town for more than ten years that is not a franchise. Doesn’t matter what city you’re in. Give it a try. No franchises. Just local business. Of any type. Those are the backbone businesses that love you. Support them. Work with them. Make teams with them with whatever you’re involved in doing with your life be it acting or photography or telecommunications. 

Truthfully, I feel that all these guys have done is kick themselves in their own pants nice and hard. I mean, who can afford to give away 100 million dollars of their own salaries? That’s just more evidence that they simply don’t understand what’s going on here. It was their money! Yeah, they gave 25% back, but still… as the Goonies would say… “All that rich stuff!?!?!” I hate that I won’t get to work with the BANSHEE folks again. Geno Segers was a really cool guy to meet for someone just starting out. Class act. Some local folks like Kevin O’ConnorBill ConklinJacinta Carol – Actress/ModelDustin Lee Cartee, and others were awesome to work with on set as well, and it was a place to see other local faces like that in the biz which was reassuring for me having just started out. It makes you easily feel like this can be done if you just treat it like a straight up job, knuckle down and go after it, ya know?

But that being said, in reality, it ain’t like I expect folks like Tona Dahlquistand a few other Casting Agencies in town to fold up shop and call it quits. They work in this biz, too. And we’re all Tarheels about it, dammit.

So, listen up, you career politicians, we’re gonna make so much money move through this business that you can’t touch it’s gonna make you think the old school Chicago mob moved into the State. There will be so much independent movement going every which way that what control you did have over what was going on will be a thing of the past. A distant memory… and by the time you fellas that are in office now figure out what’s going on around you, we’ll be organized enough to be putting your replacements in office. Ones that can see how to make the film industry pay for the education of the state, roads and infrastructure, reviving state parks and enforcing clean up efforts from the power company bullies. You know… issues. Political ones. The ones we put you in office to figure out. So, get to work, or just sit there. I don’t care. I’d rather fix the problem myself anyway half the time.

-Jon Kingsley

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