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Group Plans Nonprofit To Promote Wilmington Filmmaking

By Cece Nunn, posted Jan 31, 2017
Producer Paula Haller with a member of the Golden Knights on Special Ops Day in August 2016 at Fort Bragg. Haller was present that day gathering information for a film on the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus. (Photo courtesy of Paula Haller)
A Wilmington group interested in promoting film production in Wilmington, initially focusing on documentaries related to the military, is forming a nonprofit corporation.

“We’re trying to revive Wilmington as a documentary film hub,” said Karl Miller, who is chairman of the advisory board of what will be a 501(c)3 organization.

The project that served as the impetus for Wilmington Production Corp. is Songs from the Sky: the 82nd Airborne Division's All-American Chorus by producer Paula Haller, a member of University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Miller said one of the objectives of the group is to promote U.S. military veterans and current active duty military members through film while also promoting documentary film production in the Wilmington area.

Diane Durance, director of the CIE, serves as vice chairman of Wilmington Production Corp.’s board.

She said the CIE intends to be involved in numerous activities promoting Wilmington businesses that are involved in documentary production, media production and commercials, for examples.

“We’re really finding that there is a great deal of interest on the part of our members ... that are actively involved in producing documentaries,” Durance said. “We’re going to really be working hard to connect with the talent that’s here. I understand there’s at least 400 people here that were involved in the film industry that have stayed here.”

Film incentives that brought major projects to North Carolina and the Wilmington area in previous years were replaced in 2015 with a smaller grant program, which officials have said depleted the local industry.   

Durance said some local film industry workers have to travel to projects in other states, but they’re based here. Some of them are retired and want to share their contacts, and that’s good news for film students at UNCW and Cape Fear Community College, she said.

Some good news for Wilmington Production Corp. and Songs from the Sky includes that the documentary is intended for UNC-TV and the American Forces Network (AFN), while also expected to be available for distribution through DVDs to the public.

Haller, who has been making documentaries for 25 years, said documentary filmmaking has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the help of more options on cable TV and streaming services and high-profile documentarians like Ken Burns and Michael Moore, catalysts for a new type of filmmaking. Haller's 14th annual DocuTime documentary film festival takes place Saturday at UNCW, co-sponsored by the Department of Film Studies and WHQR. The one-day festival includes Oscar-nominated film Life, Animated.

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