Of the dozens of film projects in North Carolina that have sought millions in taxpayer film subsidies since 2005, one stands out for the unusual way the producer says he spent the money: on construction workers, bricks and mortar to transform an old hosiery mill in Hickory from a vacant eyesore into a valuable piece of commercial real estate.
The more than $4 million in construction activity at the mill was part of filming for episodes of a reality TV show that promised to take viewers into the ups and downs of remaking historic buildings. The docudrama TV project, known as “The Preservationist,” was filmed two years ago.
It has not aired and, as of this month, is not lined up for distribution. A website related to the show has been suspended and trailers online are marked “private.”
The film project is seeking $1.1 million in state film incentives, according to reports filed with the state Department of Revenue and an interview with the show’s producer and starring character, Nathan Kirby of Gastonia.
In early 2012, he filed an “intent to film” notice that estimated spending in North Carolina related to “The Preservationist” would be $200 million, reflecting a plan to film his historic development work on multiple rehab projects. One form filed with the state film office indicated 2,500 people would work on the episodes as “talent/extras.”
While it may well never air, “The Preservationist” does manage to capture all that’s wrong with the state’s film incentives program in one nice little package.