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CoastLine: Film Crew Members Still Key Part of NC Film Landscape

Katelyn Freund / WHQR
Tom Priestley, Jr. holds a photo from his time working on Miami Vice.

The film production landscape in North Carolina in first quarter of 2019 consists of Swamp Thing, Uncle Frank, and the pilot, Reprisal -- the latter two in pre-production.  

Words On Bathroom Walls has wrapped. 

According to the North Carolina Film Commission, eleven productions came to the state in 2018.  Compare that to 23 in 2012, the year of Iron Man 3, and 35 productions the following year – in 2013. 

There is a community of film professionals in the Wilmington area who have, for decades, been part of the draw – the infrastructure -- for producers along with the facilites at E-U-E / Screen Gems.  But traffic took a nose dive after the state legislature killed the tax rebate form of the film incentive in 2014. 

Since then, legislators have been building up the grant money available to film and TV producers and have passed a law that adds $31 million to the pot each year with no sunset.  Production in North Carolina is on the rise – but it’s not near the volume of the early teens. 

On this edition of CoastLine, we meet two career film professionals – but not the kind we often meet when we talk about film.  They’re not actors or screenwriters or directors first.  But they are as critical to the end product.


Tom Priestley, Director of Photography (retired); highlights include:   The Thomas Crown Affair, Demolition Man, Die Hard With A Vengeance, I Know What You Did Last Summer.  Before working as DP, he was a camera operator on dozens of films including Midnight Cowboy, The French Connection, The Exorcist, Network, Annie Hall, Saturday Night Fever, Hair, Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Amadeus, A Chorus Line

Joseph D’Alessandro, Camera Operator; highlights include:  Bull Durham, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Prince of Tides, Ace Ventura:  When Nature Calls, Nell starring Jodie Foster, Tammy starring Melissa McCarthy, and most recently, The Hate U Give.  TV Series include The Golden Years, American Gothic, One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek.  


Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR