‘Banshee’ to film in western Rowan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2013

SALISBURY — Goodbye “Sleepy Hollow,” hello “Banshee.”
Three months after the Fox TV pilot “Sleepy Hollow” filmed in downtown Salisbury for a week, the Cinemax suspense thriller “Banshee” is scheduled to film in western Rowan County for about a week, starting Monday.
Film crews started moving equipment this weekend onto Cooper Road, a gravel road off N.C. 150 where a location scout for the TV series found what he called “the perfect house,” said Don Bringle, parks and recreation director for Rowan County.
Bringle said the “Banshee” scout told him he was driving around when he saw the old farmhouse and large barn. The property will serve as a backdrop for the show, which is filmed in the Charlotte region but set in Pennsylvania Amish country.
The owner of the property said she could not discuss the film project.
Saturday afternoon, golf carts, large lighting apparatus and other equipment awaited the crews’ arrival at 4 a.m. Monday. A Charlotte company is providing 24-hour security.
Screaming Spirit Productions is paying Rowan County $100 a day for five days to park between 40 and 50 cars at Sloan Park, about a mile from the farmhouse, Bringle said. Cast and crew will park on the paved lot near the picnic shelter, which holds 36 cars. The grass will serve as overflow parking, and studio vehicles will shuttle “Banshee” members to other locations.
While access to that parking lot will be limited to cast and crew, Sloan Park visitors can continue to use the large lot near the playground, Bringle said.
The studio also will use the Millbridge Ruritan Club as the catering location, according to yellow signs marked “SSP” outside the building on Sloan Road.
Ollie McKnight is renting her former cow pasture to the “Banshee” production company. She said the studio will use her field as a parking lot for tractor trailers and other trucks.
McKnight was born in Rowan County and has lived in her current residence since 1955, when she and her husband built the home. She said she’s never seen anything like the buzz surrounding “Banshee.”
“I tell you, this is going to be something else,” she said.
McKnight declined to say how much “Banshee” is paying her but said it will be a “tremendous help on new air conditioning.”
She said she was surprised to find location scouts at her front door recently, inquiring about her cow pasture. Initially, McKnight turned them down.
“Then I got to thinking about that air conditioner I need,” she said.
When a scout came back and asked if McKnight would reconsider, she said yes.
“Every little bit helps,” she said.
Location scouts photographed David Freeze’s house inside and out three weeks ago as a contender for the Amish setting. Freeze’s Weaver Road home was not chosen, but he said the scout told him the film project would bring hundreds of people to western Rowan.
Freeze said the “Banshee” cast and crew will wake up the usually quiet rural area.
“Nothing happens out here,” Freeze said. “Unless West Rowan High School or Freightliner is open, there’s not much going on. You can stand here for 30 minutes and not see a car.”
Freeze said the storyline calls for the house to catch on fire, although the scout assured Freeze the house won’t actually burn.
According to the TV show’s website, “Banshee” stars Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania, where he continues his criminal activities, even as he’s hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier. “Banshee” is from the creator of “True Blood.”
“Sleepy Hollow,” which premieres in September on Fox, last week announced it will locate the series in Wilmington instead of Salisbury, where the pilot was based in March. Twentieth Century Fox chose Wilmington to save time and money, a state film official said.
“Sleepy Hollow” paid the city of Salisbury $29.94 for water used during filming of the pilot. The city did not charge more because the studio filmed on public streets, a city official said.
To apply to be an extra, check out the Facebook page called “Banshee Casting.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.