The more than
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
Kirby's primary line of work is in real estate, including as a developer who rehabs old buildings. As a sideline, he has had an interest in producing and acting in lower-budget films.
At one point, he told state officials that his TV show project needed the subsidy and could mean "hundreds of millions of investment" and "thousands of jobs," which had the head of the state's film office saluting the project as a "legitimate production venture."
Kirby ultimately reported far less in spending and jobs. The claim filed with state officials listed 14 people employed for the show.
Kirby said state officials who approve film subsidies are now auditing his reality show's receipts and other information and have not yet approved his claim. He said he is facing scrutiny because of his dual role as a historic buildings developer and film producer.
Kirby said he followed all the rules of the film incentive program.
Under the program, the state will refund 25 percent of production costs for film, TV, commercial and other motion picture projects. Typically, this spending is on wages for actors and crew, on goods such as cameras and hard drives, and on services such as catering and dry cleaning.
In the case of Kirby, he says the costs of his show included rebuilding an old mill. One promo for the show promised that viewers would "join
"Us coming in and doing the development on the (TV) production is very helpful in getting the project off the ground," Kirby said then.
The work is done and the result has been new life at the historic
Subsidy up for debate
The state's film incentive is set to be debated in the
Some legislators want to keep the program as a way to support an industry they say is high-tech and offers good jobs. Others say the incentive money -- more than
State officials do not vote on film projects individually; the incentive is written into the tax code as what's known as a refundable tax credit, the only one of its kind because it first wipes out any tax liability and then refunds remaining incentive money to the production company.
Without legislative action, the film incentive will go away at the end of the year. The administration of Gov.
In recent weeks, the major movie studios have begun advancing a plan that would preserve the incentive for feature films, commercials and scripted TV series, but limit eligibility for reality projects such as Kirby's rehab show as well as other one-time productions. Those include wrestling matches or late-night comedy shows such as ones that were in
McCrory's plan would continue to offer incentives for reality shows.
The current state film incentive program has no requirement that a show must actually air to qualify for the subsidy; its premise is based on stimulating job and spending activity.
No lawmaker has voiced concern specifically about "The Preservationist," produced by Kirby's
Unusual amount on services
Fight Sprawl Productions I has filed claims that said it spent about
Asked if the "services" spending submitted to the state in order to secure the film production incentive included bricks, concrete and similar costs for redeveloping the mill, he said yes.
"All of it," Kirby said. "Everything."
The mill rehabilitation budget, as provided to city officials for a separate grant program, described the rehab effort as a
Kirby said seeking film incentives based on bricks-and-mortar spending was no different from when the
"They did a similar type of project," Kirby said. "They renovated a building. They actually turned in receipts for their bricks and mortar and for their materials. We did the exact same thing."
That show follows builders who renovate or rebuild homes for people in need, with much of the labor and materials described as being donated. Homes that were part of the show were donated to residents.
A spokeswoman for the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," which aired for multiple seasons but is no longer in production, could not immediately comment. The show reported spending
Denied early on
According to documents, Kirby faced skepticism from the beginning.
In early 2012, he filed an "intent to film" notice that estimated spending in
It is not clear if he filmed episodes about more buildings than the mill in
"We have been declared invalid as a production company," Kirby wrote on
Kirby said "hundreds of millions of investment" and "thousands of jobs" were at stake.
Syrett responded later that day that Kirby's show was "certainly a project the North Carolina Film Office would like to be done in
"Your project is not dissimilar to most reality/non-scripted projects, in that the real life person and their daily activity is the narrative," Syrett wrote.
Kirby wrote back 10 days later to say that "I think we've satisfied the requirements for the (
Kirby said the state gave him and his lawyers a ruling that said he could count construction and rehab costs for the mill simultaneously as film production costs for the purpose of receiving the film subsidy. Kirby said the decision, issued to him in a private letter that he would not share with
"We got a ruling that said if I don't own the property, any part of the property that we're working on, that we're renovating, (then) any of our expenses will be covered," Kirby said. "That's what the ruling says. And I don't own any of the property that we put through the film. I followed the rules."
Kirby said he has provided a "rough cut" of the show to revenue officials, who he says keep asking questions and have him wondering if he will ever get the
He said he is still working to get the show aired.
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