-by Josh Harris, Media Services
From beautiful beaches to picturesque mountains and all that comes in between, North Carolina has been the locale of choice for generations of filmmakers. Even going back to the silent era, there were some 400 silent films made in North Carolina (for a closer look into the silent era history of NC, click here).
Below are just a few of the roughly 3,000 films made in North Carolina; take a look and consider how the natural beauty of our state has been selected, time and time again, to be immortalized on film.
Feel free to stop by the lower level of Smith Library and check out the DVD of any of the films listed below.
This 2018 crime drama tells the true story of four young men who attempted a heist at the library of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004. Blending documentary techniques with narrative storytelling, along with a few unreliable narrators, this film creates a sense of ambiguity in the audience so we’re never really sure who to believe. This film was shot mainly in Charlotte, NC, with on-campus and library heist scenes being filmed at nearby Davidson College.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Thriller AV 791.4372 Am35121Li 2018
This 2002 horror comedy co-written and directed by Eli Roth (also known for Hostel and The Green Inferno) is about a group of college friends who fall victim to a flesh-eating virus while on vacation in the country. While this film was dismissed by critics upon its initial release, it has developed a following, mostly by fans of low-budget horror schlock. While small portions of this movie were filmed in Los Angeles and Ontario, most was filmed in North Carolina. Areas include Mount Airy, Winston-Salem, and even High Point.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Horror/Suspense AV 791.4372 C111b 2004
THE COLOR PURPLE
This film, based on the book by Alice Walker, focuses on the lives of three African-American women in the early 20th century and through the lens of its protagonist, Celie Harris, describes how issues like poverty, sexism, domestic violence, and racism worked in tandem to consistently and systematically oppress these women. Although the story is set in Georgia, most of the film’s locations are in and around Monroe, North Carolina.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Drama AV 791.4372 C71wa 1997
Check out the book: Smith Library, 3rd Floor – General Collection (800-899) 813.54 W15c 2003 c. 2
After directing the Oceans trilogy, Stephen Soderbergh took his unique ability to weave an intricate heist film and did it again, this time set in the South. Logan Lucky is about two ne’er-do-well brothers (played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) who decide to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The two are comically underestimated, which turns out to be their greatest asset as they attempt a daring and clever heist.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Comedy AV 791.4372 L82814un 2017
Logan Lucky is not the only southern heist film made in recent years. The interesting thing about Masterminds is that not only was this filmed in Hazelwood (near Asheville) and stars NC native Zach Galifianakis, but this film is about a true crime that happened in 1997. David Scott Ghantt (Galifianakis) stole over $17 million while employed as a driver with Loomis Fargo in Charlotte. The real charm of this movie is with the ensemble cast of SNL alum (including Kristen Wiig, Jason Sedakis, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones) who provide the real-life characters involved in the heist a grounded – even if hilariously depicted – representation on screen.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Comedy AV 791.4372 M3935tw 2017
Like other film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks books (e.g. Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodanthe) The Choice takes place in NC and was filmed here, too. Most of the romantic tension played out on screen by Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer was filmed in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. It makes sense that Sparks chooses to produce films in NC; he has lived in New Bern for years.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Romance AV 791.4372 C4523Li 2015
Check out the book: Smith Library, 3rd Floor – General Collection (800-899) 813.54 Sp2ch 2007
IRON MAN 3
Iron Man 3 is a great example of how NC film professionals are not only capable of attracting smaller-budget productions, but massive blockbuster films as well. Some of the filming took place in Wilmington, Cary, Oak Island, and Rose Hill. The exciting final battle scene was filmed at the Port of Wilmington. If you are unfamiliar with the character of Iron Man or the happenings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have no way to quickly bring you to up to speed and congratulations on successfully avoiding the decade-long deluge of media surrounding it.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Sci-Fi Fantasy AV 791.4372 Ir6353pa 2013
THE HUNGER GAMES
This 2012 adaptation of the first in a series of dystopian young adult novels proved to be a massive box office success and (along with Winter’s Bone) helped launch Jennifer Lawrence’s acting career. This film introduces us to the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, and how two young people from District 12 compete in The Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death that is not to be confused with the plot of The Running Man. Most of the filming was done in North Carolina; the run-down squalor of District 12 was actually the abandoned Henry River Mill Village in Hildebran, the forest where Katniss shows off her archery skills is the Pisgah National Forest near Barnardsville, the Capitol is actually an abandoned Phillip Morris cigarette factory in Concord and the Arena where most of the carnage takes place was filmed in Black Mountain. For a more precise breakdown of the locations used throughout the entire film series, click here.
Check out the DVD: Smith Library, 1st Floor – DVD – Feature Films – Adventure AV 791.4372 H8949Li 2012 c. 3
Check out the book: Smith Library, 3rd Floor – General Collection (800-899) 813.62 C69hu 2008