Filmmakers who might become interested in a production that requires authentic scenes of a house from the Civil War era now have a prime location in Mount Airy to consider.
An official of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission paid a visit to the William Alfred Moore House Thursday, which involved taking up-to-date photographs of the structure that was built around 1862.
This was done in order to include the Moore House among a list of prospective filming locations in the 12-county area covered by the commission based in Winston-Salem. That territory extends from northernmost communities of the state all the way south to Montgomery County.
“I love historic buildings and homes and it’s something I always wanted to add to the location library,” the commission’s executive director, Rebecca Clark, said Friday of the Mount Airy site. “I just added it to our online database.”
This means producers or directors will become aware of the local house’s availability for movies, television shows, commercials and other projects including still photo shoots.
Clark mentioned that the Triad region, and Surry County for that matter, has built a good track record for movie locations in recent years.
“Surry County has seen a lot of film activity,” she said.
This has included scenes shot at the 1893 Atkinson House in Surry for the independent film “You Are Here,” which marked the directorial debut of Matt Weiner, the creator of the “Mad Men” TV series. Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler are among the film’s cast members.
In addition, the Mitchell River House in the Dobson area provided the setting for “The Longest Ride,” a film adaptation of a novel by Nicholas Sparks which stars Scott Eastwood and Alan Alda.
Going back about 10-plus years, exterior scenes for the 2002 comedy-horror movie “Cabin Fever” were filmed at Raven Knob Scout Reservation near Lowgap.
The common denominator seems to be Surry County’s wealth of old farmhouses and other structures that are “historically intact,” the film commission official explained. These usually can’t be duplicated on a Hollywood set, which means locations elsewhere constantly are being scouted.
“And so the Moore House is one of Surry County’s many gems,” Clark said of the structure considered to be the oldest-known building in Mount Airy.
During her visit to the house Thursday, Clark was given a tour by Betty Wright, longtime leader of the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation, which bought the historic site in 1992.
In addition to the house itself, Clark was impressed by a gazebo on the front lawn.
The film commission official said some critics might question the value of having such sites included in movies or other productions, but this goes far beyond mere “Tinsel Town” exposure.
“What this office is all about is creating economic development,” Clark said of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission.
When a production crew comes to a location, it can mean jobs for local residents, including technical positions they might have been trained for in film schools such as North Carolina School of the Arts, she added.
The entourage also will patronize local businesses and otherwise boost the economy.
“It brings a lot of money,” Clark said of the benefits to a community.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.