There is a beauty and an elegance to people who pursue their own dreams in the face of mediocre expectations. Perhaps that is what the world of film promises: something greater, more beautiful and remarkable than hum-drum daily life.
When we sit in a cinema, we can be James Bond or Wonder Woman or the most desirable person on Earth. For some, there is a desire to make the dreams more lasting. Kenny Caperton asked, “Why can’t I have that all the time?”
Caperton takes fandom to new highs: He built a replica of the Myers house from John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (dubbed “The Myers House North Carolina”) and under the title “On Set Cinaema,” he travels around the country, screening cult classics he loves at locations used to make the films.
“I’ve been visiting movie filming locations as a hobby for nearly 20 years and thought it would be amazing if I could watch the movie exactly where it was filmed,” he tells.
Last year encore covered his screening in Wilmington: “Empire Records” at downtown’s Rebellion. He also did one in Harrell’s Department Store in Burgaw, NC, featuring “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Now he is back to screen perhaps the most culty movie every filmed in ILM, David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” at Savorez Restaurant on Sunday, May 5, 7:30 p.m.
In the 1986 film, Savorez was Arlene’s Diner. But “Blue Velvet” filmed all over Wilmington: downtown’s Roudabush building (now Husk, YoSake and Dram + Morsel), Forest Hills neighborhood, Carolina Apartments on 3rd and Market, Barbary Coast on Front Street, etc. Essentially, there were many locations Caperton could choose.
“I chose Savorez because I really like the scenes from the movie that take place there,” Caperton describes. “They are important to the overall plot.”
But the selection process of where he screens a movie varies from film to film. The only stipulation is he chooses one that’s a memorable place.
“Maybe it’s from an important scene, maybe a lot was filmed there, or maybe the location just simply looks cool or interesting,” he describes. “And sometimes it’s the only location that will let me [show the movie]! Sometimes when I contact these places, they think I’m insane or don’t like to be associated with the movie.”
In addition to securing Savorez, Caperton has asked makeup artist Jeff Goodwin to join for a Q&A. Goodwin is famous (or infamous?) for making the severed ear in “Blue Velvet,” which opens the movie. Serendipity brought Caperton and Goodwin together, as the makeup artist happened to be back in ILM working on DC Universe’s “Swamp Thing.” Goodwin seems pleased, but not surprised by the endurance of “Blue Velvet.”
“I’m just proud to have been a part of a movie that is now a modern classic,” he says. “I think we helped to give ‘Blue Velvet’ a timeless feel by mixing up looks from different time periods. There are styles from the ‘30s to the ‘80s.”
Not just audiences remember “Blue Velvet” fondly. Goodwin says it was one of his favorite filmmaking experiences. He attributes the leadership of David Lynch and producer Fred Caruso as making it so. And for a man with close to 100 film credits and a career spanning over three decades, that’s quite a statement.
Coming back to North Carolina after having worked all over the world, Goodwin takes notice of the changes the film industry has seen in ILM. He’s not shy on describing his own thoughts about the tax incentives sunset under the McCrory reign.
“It’s been sad to see our own politicians do everything they can to destroy a thriving business and run them out of state, along with jobs and income,” he observes.
The loss of filming in the state, which financially benefits every county in North Carolina, has been tough to weather. “Swamp Thing” was a beacon to many of us, heralding the possible return. Though, a few short weeks ago it was announced filming is cut short by three episodes, as the DC Universe streaming platform is undergoing re-evaluation. Yet, the independent feature “Uncle Frank” and TV show “Reprisal” have both set up production in our area now this spring, too.
Many small businesses benefit from the money the film industry spends here. I can confirm our bookstore is back to renting out props for set dressing. Plus, crews need housing, food, items for day-to-day living, not to mention the amount they spend on shopping and nightlife. Tent, Port-o-Johns and chair rental companies must be dancing a jig because films utilize their services ad nauseam. And that is just the tip of the iceberg with film spending.
So, yes, there is a very real, immediate injection of money into the local economy from film production. As Caperton notes, there is another long-term piece. He’s been visiting movie locations as a hobby for nearly 20 years—and he is not the only one.
“When I started On Set Cinema, I didn’t know how people would react, or if anyone would show up,” he tells. “Some screenings are harder than others, but, overall, the response and turnout has been amazing and beyond what I ever thought it would be. At almost every screening, there is someone who flies in to attend. I screened ‘Twilight’ in Portland, Oregon, in March and fans from over 40 US states and four different countries came to the event!”
Wilmington has the same appeal. A very significant piece of our tourism pie is film-related. “One Tree Hill,” multiple Stephen King creations, “Dream a Little Dream,” “The Crow,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Matlock,” “The Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” “Iron Man” … the list goes on. They all continue to bring fans to visit our fair port city, and every person needs a place to stay, food to eat, and transportation.
We make money over and over again from film: the money spent during production, the money the crew spend to live and be part of our community, and again with money tourists spend visiting our area to celebrate movies and shows they love.
In February 2019, NC Senator Harper Peterson introduced Senate Bill 57 in the NC General Assembly to address the film tax credit. Hopefully, it will spur more productions to come and spend money here.
As Goodwin urges, “We must all get out and vote and do something to change the way this state and this country is going!”
In addition we must lobby our general assembly on behalf of what we need and want for our economy, namely film—the golden goose that keeps on giving for years and years to come.
“Blue Velvet” is a great example. 33 years after its launch, here we are screening and celebrating it. David Lynch has “Twin Peaks” on TV again and cameras are rolling in Wilmywood. Peterson has said in a previous interview with encore he is worried the film tax bill will die in committee and never make it to a vote. In other words, please, call the members of the NC General Assembly and let them know we need the industry back in all its prosperous glory.
In the meantime, on May 5, go celebrate one of our more successful and infamous films. And ask the guy who made the ear how he did it and what it was like to work with Lynch.