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Celebrate North Carolina Film

Article Published: Mar. 15, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 15, 2012
Celebrate North Carolina Film

From left, director Michael Mann directs actors Steven Waddington and Daniel Day-Lewis on 1992’s ‘Last of the Mohicans,’ a portion of which was filmed on Grandfather Mountain.

Photo submitted

North Carolina citizens and filmmakers have a fascination with the silver screen, and filmmaking is part of North Carolina.

That rich past is captured in “Celebrate North Carolina Film,” part of the “Celebrate North Carolina” initiative of the Office of First Gentleman Bob Eaves, arranged in cooperation with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, and available online at

Historic documentaries, futuristic films and everything in between are made in North Carolina.

“In North Carolina, film is more than just entertainment, it’s a way for us to share our stories with the world and an important sector of the economy,” Eaves said. “We are fortunate to have the unique combination of outstanding, scenic locations and a skilled and creative workforce. In addition, our world-class film school programs that are training the next generation of filmmakers and production workers will mean that North Carolina will continue to play a leading role in the film industry in the future.”

Details of the first film shot in North Carolina can be found on the Celebrate North Carolina site.
In 1921, Dare County School superintendent Mabel Evans shot and produced “The Lost Colony” about the settling of the Outer Banks in the 1580s. The long running symphonic opera of the same name still delights audiences every summer in Manteo.

The website offers glimpses into the past with vintage footage from the State Archives of North Carolina, including a future-oriented look at the state from the 1949 black and white short film, “Tar Heel Family.” It examines the shift from a farm to an industry-based economy, and how the state can continue to be progressive.

Other gems include the movies of H. Lee Walters from the 1930s. Walters traveled to cities and towns across North Carolina to make movies of everyday people. He showed the films in local theaters and provided an affordable pick-me-up for folks living through the Great Depression.

North Carolina plays a part on the big screen, as well. Blockbusters, such as “The Color Purple,” “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Forrest Gump,” filmed in the state.

The TV shows, “One Tree Hill,” and “Dawson’s Creek,” were shot here also. The upcoming movie, “Iron Man 3,” is expected start production in North Carolina this year. A list of productions and locations is on the website.

Film festivals for eclectic tastes also are popular destinations for tourists to North Carolina. In coordination with First Gentleman Eaves’ Celebrate North Carolina initiative, the Southern Documentary Fund is providing a series of films for discussion groups. The films focus on North Carolina people, history and culture.

Public libraries across North Carolina will be purchasing the films and hosting viewing and discussion programs at their libraries. Many of them will include discussions led by the local filmmaker.

For more information, visit Celebrate North Carolina Film and the State Archives Film Collection.
For information on the film discussion groups at public libraries, call (919) 807-7421.

The State Archives and the State Library are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
For more information, visit

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