Mooresville stars as ‘Banshee, Pa.’

A hush has fallen over several blocks of North Broad Street in downtown Mooresville. It is “quiet on the set” of the Cinemax original series “Banshee,” which shoots much of its footage in North Carolina. The Mooresville set is sandwiched among real businesses, starting at West Center Avenue and American Classic Antiques and sprawling north, ending before the Mooresville Ice Cream Co.

For four days in late May, the show filmed there, working long hours such as 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., because many scenes happen at night. The crew is scheduled to film a few more times in Mooresville throughout summer, said Town of Mooresville Public Information Officer Kim Sellers.

Mooresville is home to the sets of several of the show’s locations, including Miles Diner. Crew members quietly assemble and break down the sets. They wheel sound and lighting equipment from three large semi-trucks parked between historic brick storefronts that have been bought or leased for filming. Cars with California plates are parked near the equipment. The closed sets where filming is in process can be identified by the blackout tents and sheets wrapped around portions of the buildings. Cranes and white vans seem to be everywhere. Two sets of “Banshee Sheriff” cars sit on set: a pristine, intact car and banged up ones for after-action shots.

We are not allowed to photograph the actors or anything that would be a spoiler for unaired episodes.

Downtown through a different lens

In addition to Mooresville, other area locations where “Banshee” has shot include Huntersville, Mount Ulla, Lincolnton, Salisbury, Charlotte, Monroe, Gastonia and Waxhaw.

The series, which follows an ex-convict as he resumes questionable activities as sheriff of the small town of Banshee, Pa., debuted in 2013. Season two showed earlier this year. Now the crew is filming season three, set to air in 2015. The third-season renewal came in January, after just a few episodes of season two aired.

To see the set location bustling with busy crew members and protected by both security guards and Mooresville police officers sheds a different light on the town.

Viewing the downtown through the eyes of TV location managers is to notice anew the quaint qualities of Mooresville that residents may take for granted. For example, filming had to pause for a break because of a loud train slowly rolling through town directly in front of the set. A sign reading “Banshee Depot” hangs on the real Mooresville depot.

Feel good moments

One of the most interesting things to learn about “Banshee” is how well-liked the crew is in the community. Several Mooresville police officers, locally-hired security guards and employees of some businesses surrounding the set commented on how much they enjoy the crew being around. More than just bringing lots of business to the local economy – from filling up a hotel with the cast and crew for a week at a time to keeping an open tab for crew and set help at the ice-cream store – the crew is also known for being friendly and respectful to the community.

HEbrews Coffeehouse employee Piper Gatton, 16, said the crew is friendly and tip well.

“They seem to care about you and not just your coffee,” she said, noting they often order 15 or more drinks at a time.

Kathryn Gambill, 18, who works at Mooresville Ice Cream Co., has had similar experiences waiting on the crew.

“It’s really interesting being in the middle of a show filming, seeing them move around equipment, sets, giant lights,” she said. “You feel like part of it.”

Mooresville police officers said they enjoy protecting the set, and commented on how beneficial filming is for the local economy. They also said Mooresville businesses that lose money because of filming are compensated for losses.

The show may have also created new interest in filmmaking locally: a flier in the window of the Mooresville Ice Cream Co. advertises Movie Makers Film Camp for kids through Mooresville’s recreation department.