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39 when legendary filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis shot a scene for his adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Firestarter” at Orton Plantation. De Laurentiis saw an area rich in potential resources for movie making. He established a studio here and bought a palatial ocean-front house at Wrightsville Beach. Soon, the industry was thriving. “There were times during the early Dino days when we’d be shooting downtown and there was always the challenge of crosstalk on the walkies because they’d be a film company here and two blocks over they’d be a film company and another three blocks over they’d be another one,” says Joe D’Alessandro, a camera operator who came to Wilmington in 1985 to work on the De Laurentiis-produced “Maximum Overdrive.” “The radios would start crossing over because there’s so many walkie-talkies.” Through hundreds of productions, blockbuster movies like “Iron Man 3” and TV series including “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill” and “Under The Dome,” the industry has endeared itself to the community-at-large. A strong independent film industry soon grew out from it. “The local community has always supported local indie produc-tions in nearly every category of what it takes to produce a film,” says Terry Linehan, an independent filmmaker and University of North Carolina Wilmington film professor. “Locals do not gener-ally fund big-budget movies. But they will help fund local, smaller productions. They’ve been the backbone of that for years. I’m not just talking money. Local businesses provide locations, food, and much more to the little guys.” Their works are on display in area film festivals like Cucalorus, which held its 22nd annual festival last November, the NC Black Film Festival, and the Wilmington Jewish Film Festival. Each year, Wilmington plays host to a variety of filmmakers, conferences and contests, and movies from all over the world are exhibited at these events. Some envision Wilmington becoming an independent film hub like Austin, Texas, which has remained a consistent epicenter for independent cinema through the cyclical nature of big-budget productions. “That’s one of my big hopes and goals,” says Billy Lewis, owner of Orange Street Films and an independent filmmaker whose hor-ror film “The Terrible Two” is scheduled for release in 2017. “I mean, I love Los Angeles and New York but I would never want to live there full time. I always want to keep Wilmington home. Anything in the arts in a smaller town like Wilmington is tough, and if you want to pursue that you have to be really passionate about it and believe in it.” Billy Lewis shot his film “The Terrible Two” in Wilmington. Independent filmmakers hope the area becomes a hub for their art. www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM


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