Film industry faces hurdles at Kure Beach, city says staff need more time to grant permits

The Netflix film “Along for the Ride” filming in front of Kure Beach Pier. (Netflix/’Along the Ride’)

KURE BEACH – Productions planning to locate in a coastal town on Pleasure Island may face a few extra steps before getting the green light. The city council wants filming permits to be submitted more in advance and for the production to present the details at council meetings.

The board – which discussed the changes at its meeting on Monday – will vote next month, on September 19, on the proposed revisions.

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The city evaluates low, medium or high impact film projects. Those in the last two categories that have major effects on city amenities – roads, businesses, garbage and maintenance services – would need to get council approval at a regular meeting, held every third Monday of the month.

“When these movie productions come to town, everything has to be put aside, block off areas, do something that requires approval from each of our department heads, all seven of them,” Mayor Craig Bloszinsky said during the meeting.

Kure Beach uses its special event permit for movies and handles requests, which they receive via email.

The city does not dedicate specific staff to cinematographic needs. Unlike the City of Wilmington’s Office of Film and Media Services, which has the authority to approve permits, Kure Beach relies on its recreation department to handle items and other special events.

According to Recreation Director Nikki Keely, the city would receive requests a week before a production’s filming date, sending her and city staff scrambling to accommodate the project on short notice.

“It’s just formalizing the process,” Keely said.

At the meeting, Bloszinsky said the city needs time between council meetings — about 30 days — to manage filming permits. He also argued for a $2,000 fine on permits that require quick turnaround, but the council failed to reach consensus on the suggestion. It won’t be written into revisions, according to Keely.

“When we disrupt the whole city, it should have a cost,” Bloszinsky said during the discussion. “I don’t think they will change the way they do business, I just think we should be compensated for jumping through hoops.”

Kure Beach fee invoice for filming permits and assistance, but board members agreed that wasn’t enough to justify the often last-minute efforts of the staff.

The city brought in $9,000 from seven permits in the 2021-22 fiscal year, granting 10 permits in total. The previous year, it issued seven permits, four of which resulted in fees totaling $11,000; Netflix’s “Along for the Ride,” which filmed in Kure Beach last spring and debuted in May, grossed $6,000.

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“We all love that the film industry is here -” Mayor Pro Tem Allen Oliver said, before being interrupted by the mayor.

“Not all of us,” interrupted Bloskinsky.

Requiring longer notice may eliminate Kure Beach as an option for productions.

According to Wilmington Film Commission director Johnny Griffin, Hollywood’s ever-changing schedules don’t always allow for early warning.

“It’s going to frustrate the process,” he confirmed and explained that TV and streaming series will be impacted the most because their scripts aren’t written that far in advance.

“They may have committed to doing 10 episodes,” Griffin said, “and the scripts can sometimes come out literally 10 days before they film an episode. And that’s not going to change.”

He said feature films had an easier time following the proposed rules given that it was a single storyline. Still, Griffin said a month’s notice might be hard to come by, as rewrites and updates can flood in throughout the production process.

“If a city were to say, ‘You have to get it to us early,’ [productions] could just say, “Well, we just can’t shoot there,” Griffin said.

If the city’s permission revisions pass, Keely said productions will most likely have to submit applications by the Wednesday before each month’s council meeting — the city’s deadline for placing items on the agenda. of the day.

This means that productions have a narrow window to get their permits approved by the board before a filming date. For example, projects that want to move to Kure Beach in 10 days, but face a board meeting in 20 days, may be out of luck.

However, Oliver told the Port City Daily on Thursday that he did not believe the new process would hamper a production’s ability to film at Kure Beach.

“Most of them have planned well in advance what they’re going to do, and they can join us,” Oliver said. “We just need the film industry to give us more time.”

Keely clarified that productions would be able to change its permit for scheduling reasons, weather delays or other roadblocks, as long as they were “on the city’s radar” weeks in advance.

Adding permit approval to the agenda would also give residents a chance to share their concerns ahead of the city’s review.

“It’s not fair to the public, for the board to review it by email, where they don’t have a forum,” Keely said.

Keely and Oliver said they had received no complaints from residents. The city does not require residents to be notified of film disruptions by a certain date, but rather extends early notification as a courtesy.

Port City Daily contacted several Kure Beach residents, none of whom reported major inconveniences. Most said they welcomed the film industry.

Atlantic Avenue resident Susan Sewell said it was exciting when she granted “Hightown” the use of her driveway during filming last year. The production paid him around $200 for the day.

“I’ve never been embarrassed enough to complain about it,” Sewell said. “It’s exciting to watch, it’s exciting to know we’re on the map.”

Sewell said many Kure Beach residents are more concerned about how the town’s plans to improve its boardwalk will affect the movie industry.

As part of its $7.2 million bike and pedestrian plan, the city is looking to replace the boardwalk’s wooden planks with another material, possibly concrete, that will require less maintenance and will last longer. Opponents cite numerous grievances against the altered appearance of the boardwalk – which would also be widened – for environmental, travel and aesthetic reasons, the latter of which appealed to productions.

“The pier has remained a fundamental constant of this community,” resident Chris Peterson said during Monday’s public comments.

In a conversation with Port City Daily last month, Griffin said many productions seek out the Kure Beach boardwalk to simulate a New England setting. However, he did not foresee that the paving would prevent films and series from settling there.

“I don’t think that’s a deal breaker,” Griffin said. “Productions choose the Wilmington area for a variety of reasons.”

Still, some see a change in film permit requirements, in addition to a remodeling of the boardwalk, as disregard for the film industry in Kure Beach.

“I walked away from this meeting thinking they don’t want the movie industry here and they’re going to do everything in their power to keep it from coming here,” Sewell said.

The city council will consider revisions to the film permit and discuss the walk at its next meeting on September 19.

Contact reporter Brenna Flanagan at [email protected]

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