Spencer hosts movie crew while TV pilot films in Salisbury
SPENCER — Rowan County is going Hollywood.
While the Fox TV pilot “Sleepy Hollow” began filming in downtown Salisbury, an unrelated crew filmed scenes for a movie Monday at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer.
Movie director Michael Landon Jr., son of “Bonanza” and “Little House on a Prairie” star Michael Landon, is filming part of his latest project at the Spencer museum.
“The Ultimate Life” is a sequel to the 2007 film “The Ultimate Gift,” which also featured Rowan County as a backdrop. Actors Drew Waters of “Friday Night Lights” and Logan Bartholomew of “Love Comes Softly” star in the sequel, which is expected to be released this fall.
Mark Brown, spokesman for the transportation museum, said filmmakers were shooting in North Carolina and started scouting for a rail yard.
“Anytime you do that, our name comes up,” Brown said.
Several films, TV shows and photo spreads have been done at the museum, most famously Justin Bieber’s shoot for Teen Vogue and “Leatherheads,” a movie starring George Clooney and Renee Zellweger.
Between 40 and 50 people worked on the movie Monday at the museum, which will double in the film as the setting for a rail yard in Louisiana and a random rural location in Texas, Brown said.
“It does show that we are quite a unique facility with quite a few capabilities,” he said.
The state-owned museum charged the production studio $600 to compensate for two staffers who worked on the movie set. To help attract film crews, the state does not allow local governments to charge a location fee for shooting on public property, but government organizations can charge for staff time, Brown said.
The exposure the museum gets through projects like “The Ultimate Life,” however, is priceless, Brown said.
Scenes shot in Spencer include the movie’s hero hopping on a train and riding with a hobo. The two share a life lesson discussion as the train moves, Brown said.
Film activity in the Charlotte region has never been busier, according to the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
Several crew members working in Spencer had just completed shooting “Iron Man 3” in Wilmington and Cary. “Sleepy Hollow,” Fox’s new TV pilot, is filming all week in Salisbury.
Also in the Charlotte region, Cinemax’s “Banshee” has opened its office and is gearing up. Hallmark Hall of Fame is currently filming its made-for-TV movie “Shuffleton’s Barbershop.”
The independent film “An Evergreen Christmas,” which shot in Gaston and Lincoln, just wrapped. Another independent movie, “Careful What You Wish For,” is in pre-production and is scouting for locations.
Commercials are the bread and butter of North Carolina’s film industry, the Charlotte Regional Partnership said. Among those airing now is the Pepsi commercial shot in Concord in February that has gone viral with nearly 16 million views on YouTube and counting.
Produced by a division of Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die company, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon goes undercover to spoof a car dealer.
Season three of the Showtime hit “Homeland” is gearing up to film once again in the Charlotte area.
Even before three TV shows began shooting in the region, film and video production had nearly a half-billion dollar impact on the regional economy, said Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO for the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
“Not only do they hire crew and local actors, they stay in hotels and rent local homes, rent cars, eat in restaurants, attend entertainment venues, lease locations, purchase props, go to dry cleaners, shop in local businesses,” he said in a weekly newsletter. “In short, they spend money.”
Incentives, friendly people, lower costs of doing business and nonstop flights from Charlotte to New York City and Los Angeles keep them coming back, Bryant said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.