Written by Rowena Carr-Allison on Feb 4, 2010. Posted in On Location

Wilmington, North Carolina, as a location for filming

Everyone’s seen Wilmington before, only they don’t really know it. The quaint North Carolina town has become a favourite with filmmakers thanks to its subtropical climate and range of locations from the all-American Main Street to historical facades, grand buildings, romantic riverbanks, gleaming wetlands, and even a resident WWII battleship, as well as endless sandy beaches in nearby Wrightsville.

Set between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River’s mouth, Wilmington is as charming and pretty as its history is dark and shady. Cape Fear first gained its name from the river’s vicious tides, then from the pirates and brigands that called it home. These days, the sunshine and palm fringed promenade give the pedestrian-friendly town a more welcoming feel.

Over the years Wilmington has hosted hundreds of shoots, from classics like Blue Velvet and The Colour Purple to blockbusters like Raw Deal and The Jackal. Strolling downtown is an exercise in deja vus. From Dawson’s Creek’s Hell’s Kitchen to the Empire Records storefront, and the spot where Brandon Lee was tragically killed while making The Crow, it seems each street corner here has its own starring role.

More recently, Wilmington hosted the independent feature Provinces of Night and has become the permanent home of One Tree Hill. Stars of the show, like Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush, are familiar faces in town.

The influx of movie crews and all they entail has most certainly given Wilmington a new lease of life. The local production infrastructure now includes 750 or so local technical crew, equipment and support services. Many of the crew have spent considerable time working in other states but, as 2010 progresses, it should become much easier for them to work locally.

The town is also the home of EUE Screen Gems Studios, the site of One Tree Hill’s semi permanent sets, with 10 sound stages across 115,000 square feet and a water tank for water scenes.

It’s fair to say Wilmington lives and breathes film while retaining its laid back charm, without a hint of attitude.

There’s more good news for what locals like to call ‘Wilmywood’. Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Office lets us in on the latest: “In January 2010, North Carolina instituted a 25% film incentive for productions working in NC. This should really increase our ability to recruit productions and provide them with everything they need.”

It seems to be working. Wilmington has been receiving a lot of interest from pilots, series, TV movies and features with several projects pending announcements in the near future.

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