If you’ve spotted film crews working in and around Charlotte in recent weeks, and were wondering, the answer is: No, Claire Danes and “Homeland” are not back in town.
The lights, the cameras and the action belong to “American Animals,” an independently financed crime-drama starring Blake Jenner (of “Glee” fame) and Evan Peters (of “American Horror Story”). According to the Internet Movie DataBase, the film centers around “four young men (who) mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.”
Variety refers to it as an “unbelievable but mostly true story,” and points out that writer-director Bart Layton previously helmed a biographical documentary titled “The Imposter,” which won a BAFTA debut film award and the British Independent Film Award for documentary and debut film.
Though production commenced in Charlotte more than a month ago, sightings are becoming increasingly common.
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The most recent? During the lunch hour on Friday, the cast and crew were working smack in the middle of uptown:
“American Animals” is the first significant production for the Charlotte region since Fox wrapped location work on its forthcoming TV series “Shots Fired” in August. (The fictional drama, which explores the subject of police shootings, premieres on March 22; we’ll have a full story about it later this month.)
But both are anomalies in the Charlotte area these days.
Since 2014 – when state legislators ended its generous film tax credit program that had attracted dozens of productions, including Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” and three seasons of Showtime’s “Homeland” – Hollywood has by and large deserted North Carolina.
That year, productions earned back $80 million based on $322 million in local spending. Currently, North Carolina has a grant program that offers productions up to a 25 percent rebate on qualified expenses and purchases, but has a total funding cap set at $30 million annually; the (complicated) finer points of that rebate program are here.
Meanwhile, Tona B. Dahlquist Casting is constantly looking for extras to work on “American Animals.” In fact, you can see from a recent post on its Facebook page that it needs “Student Types,” “People with Vehicles (non white 2004 or earlier)” and “Staff/Librarians” for scenes being shot in Davidson on Saturday...