Until recently, Litton Entertainment has mostly kept its operations in Charleston behind the scenes. The television production company has been based in Mount Pleasant for the past decade, quietly guiding its network of filmmakers, writers and editors in Boston, New York and Burbank, Calif.
Now, Dave "Buddy" Morgan, founder and chief executive officer of Litton, has announced that the company is doubling the size of its film production operations, which will bring a major portion of production to the Charleston area. That means it will develop new sound stages and hundreds, if not thousands, of job opportunities for filmmakers, actors and other industry professionals in the Charleston area over the next five years.
Litton already has begun remodeling the former studio ABC used to film "Army Wives" on Dorchester Road in North Charleston. In September, the company will begin filming "Ivy League Farmer," Litton's first movie production in the studio.
The company has hired 71 cast and crew members to produce the film, and 80 percent are South Carolina residents, according to company records.
"We're bringing clean, high-paying jobs to Charleston, and that matters to me greatly," Morgan said. "This is just the humble beginning."
In the next few years, Litton also will build a new studio complex with multiple stages in the Palmetto State, though Morgan said they haven't yet determined where it will go or when construction will begin.
"There's nothing else like that currently in South Carolina," Morgan said. "This is a huge deal for the film industry in this state."
Litton has taken advantage of tax incentives the state offers to film companies that invest at least $2 million to build a production facility in South Carolina. The incentives include a tax credit of 20 percent of the total cost of studio development, according to the state Film Commission.
"We're pleased that our motion picture incentives have encouraged Emmy Award-winning independent TV distributor Litton ... to add a soundstage to their offices and bring actual production of children's programming to Charleston," said Duane Parrish, director of the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, which oversees the commission.
The company has plans to partner with Trident Technical College in the near future for an internship program for film students. Morgan said he is also interested in working with other colleges in the state, such as the College of Charleston, to cultivate a trained workforce for the film industry in South Carolina.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail