FLORENCE GILKESON: Film Crew Moves In Slow Motion
At the time, I thought it was a neat news story. A film company was making plans to use Moore County's historic courthouse as the setting for a few scenes from a new production.
The report in The Pilot attracted far more attention than expected. In fact, I was astonished at the response to a relatively short (for me) account of the film "Shelly's Diary" as presented to the Moore County Board of Commissioners.
The production company, Seagrove-based w2-Entertainment, had asked for and received permission to use the former courtroom.
Director Timothy D. Walker liked the elegant old room, now used mostly as a meeting place for the commissioners, and thought it would provide just the right atmosphere for his film.
Readers bombarded me with questions about when and where the casting call would be held. It seems that many folks still dream of being a movie star, or more modestly, maybe just appearing ever so briefly as an extra in a film.
Well, it's been more than 15 months since the commissioners granted their permission, and the film crew has yet to show up.
We just hope it's not too late. In the past year the county has made a number of audio-visual changes in the old courtroom. Monitors have been erected at two sides, and acoustical paneling has been installed on walls and ceiling. Somehow the barny room seems a little less historic with those changes.
In fact, it's been so long that when I asked about the filming schedule several weeks ago, a couple of key county personnel expressed the assumption that plans had been discontinued. I checked with the w2-Entertainment people, who said there had been further delays but they were still planning to film scenes here this winter.
My inquiries introduced me to the hot sheet produced by the N.C. Film Office. It's accessible at ncfilm@standard email.com.
That's where I learned the incredible impact that the film industry has in North Carolina.
On a recent printout of the Film Office's schedule, I counted 37 movies, television shows, Steadicam and other types of film enterprise being staged in North Carolina from the coast to the mountains.
The television series "One Tree Hill" is filmed in Wilmington. "Nuestro Barrio," a low-budget Spanish language "edu-tainment" telenovela mini-series is being filmed in Durham.
Casting inquiries for "Douglas -- The Christmas Movie," formerly named "The von Trapp Children Christmas Movie," are being directed to a casting firm in Southern Pines. This feature film from Studio in the Woods Inc. is being filmed in North Carolina and Montana.
No, I do not have a telephone number. However, a January listing from the Film Office says casting inquiries are being made to Catrine McGregor, C.S.A., at 26 Pinecrest Plaza #168, Southern Pines. The list says it is in the pre-production stage and mentions an e-mail address at vonTrappMovie@Yahoo.com.
"Edgewater," also in pre-production, is another film with casting handled by Catrine McGregor at the same Southern Pines address.
The list goes on. Filming locations include Morehead City, Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, Henderson, Greensboro, Orange County, Brunswick County, Asheville, Maggie Valley, Cherokee, Canton, Raleigh and a vague reference to Eastern North Carolina. As expected, Wilmington is the setting for the largest number of films.
And w2-Entertainment is completing production of "I am Tommy Yow," a documentary that follows the life of a popular New Orleans artist who escaped Hurricane Katrina with only his clothing and a few paintings. The report says Seagrove is the filming area and reports that it has been "wrapped." I'm quoting all this from the N.C. Film Office.
The delay in filming "Shelly's Diary" dates back a year when Timothy Walker broke an arm. He recovered and a casting call was issued late last spring. The hot sheet has continuously listed the production, so we knew the project was still alive.
When Walker and writer Benjamin Frazier, an Asheboro native, met with the commissioners in October of 2005, they described the film as family-friendly, defined as lacking profanity, sex and graphic violence. In other words, it probably has a plot.
The enterprise certainly stirred the hearts of people longing for a chance at stardom.
I have just one request: Don't call me. I don't know anything. If you're interested, try that e-mail address and ask to subscribe to the N.C. Film Office hot sheet.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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