Without knowing what I was getting into, I ventured to see “War Room” with my parents one weekend. I was shocked.
The movie was great, telling the story of a perfect-seeming couple who turn around a failing marriage through faith and prayer. It did pretty well at the box office, too (bringing in $11 million opening weekend). The surprising part was seeing sights of home sprinkled throughout the film.
Bank of America Corporate Center, Birkdale Village and Concord’s Oakwood Cemetery are all recognizable landmarks in the film.
If you go see a faith-based movie in the coming months, don’t be surprised to see our hometown in the background. Charlotte seems to have carved itself out a niche in the film genre.
Two more faith-centered movies were shot in the area: “Captive,” released in September and featuring nationally-known actress Kate Mara; and “Saving Westbrook High,” which was filmed around Lake Norman and screened on the Up Network.
“You are certainly seeing faith-based films having success in reaching their audience,” said Guy Gaster, director of FilmNC. “Independent production companies are seeing there is an audience for these faith-based films.”
Gaster said Charlotte provides film makers with scenery, rebates and a faith-based audience. The state offers film producers the chance for a grant of up to 25 percent of their costs. In choosing the Bible-belt city of Charlotte, they also get built-in audiences.
The cluster of faith films is also partly a byproduct of the success filmmakers have had with other projects. Blockbusters like the “Hunger Games” movie have found locations in and around the city.
Gaster said often, film-makers, actors and producers come to know and love Charlotte.
“Sometimes, they are surprised at all the things you can do,” he said. “You always hear how friendly the locals are. Most people have a positive experience.”
Charlotte-area faith-based films
War Room (2015)
Saving Westbrook High (2013)
The One Lamb (2009)
The Ultimate Gift (2006)
(Photo credit for header image: Courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Film, Photo credit: David Whitlow. The photo shows War Room writer/director Alex Kendrick and producer Stephen Kendrick in front of the Charlotte skyline.)