Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘Outer Banks’ creator talks about new Amazon show to film in Wilmington

“The Runarounds” filmed its pilot in Wilmington in 2022 and will return to town from July through October this year to film its first season. (Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — After its pilot shot in Wilmington in fall 2022, “The Runarounds” has been picked up by Amazon MGM and will shoot its first season in the Port City this summer.

READ MORE: The Runarounds make local debut, 9 months after shooting pilot episode with ‘OBX’ creator

Creator Jonas Pate — best known for Netflix’s hit show “Outer Banks” — began writing the script two years ago. The show’s teleplay is handled by David Wilcox (“Fringe”).

“We’re all fired up,” Pate said on a call from Morocco on Monday.

Port City Daily confirmed the news last week, but Pate wasn’t available for an interview immediately.

Filmmaker and Wilmingtonian Jonas Pate is filming his latest show in Wilmington this year. (Courtesy photo)

“The Runarounds” was picked up by Skydance Television (“Jack Ryan,” “Cross”) last summer and only shopped to Amazon, according to Pate.

The show revolves around a group of high-school teenagers who start a rock band, make an album, go on tour, and hit all the highs and lows while attempting success. Pate said season one will focus on the group having just graduated high school and choosing their next moves: taking a job, going to college or setting off on a wild adventure to create music.

He loves the concept because it homes in on the act of being a creative and the risks it takes to make it.

“If you do anything artistic, it is kind of like jumping off a cliff — like your only reasonable expectation and training is poverty and crushing defeat,” Pate said. “So you really have to be willing to do it. You have to be a little insane. And young people make that choice without really understanding the life consequences of that until they’re older. And that’s the spirit of that — that willingness to do it with a bunch of your best friends. That’s my favorite thing about ‘The Runarounds.'”

“The Runarounds” is not only the name of the show but the real-life band, consisting of William Lipton, Axel Ellis, Zende Murdock, Jesse Golliher, and Jeremy Yun. They formed in 2021 when Pate put out a call for musicians to perform on “Outer Banks.”

Roughly 5,000 people responded to the casting call and The Runarounds ended up in Mike and Anna’s anniversary scene in season three, episode seven of “Outer Banks.”

None of the band mates had acting experience except for Lipton — who also is on “General Hospital.” Pate said he wanted the authenticity of their musicanship to come through first and enlisted the help of acting coach Russ Blackwell for the pilot, which was coined “Untitled Band Project” when it shot in Wilmington more than a year ago.

Thereafter, The Runarounds recorded an album, “Live at USC” — produced by Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads — and went on tour, including making a stop in Wilmington last summer (read former PCD coverage here). 

The Runarounds have recorded a live album and went on tour last year, including a stop in Wilmington. They’re returning this summer to record a show that has their namesake. (Courtesy photo)

When the band filmed the pilot, many of the musicians were literally teenagers, Pate said. A lot of growing up has gone in during the time frame from conceptualizing “The Runarounds” to bringing it to fruition. The band gelled in a way that serves them as artists and as actors.

“They’ve played a lot of gigs together, both separate and together,” Pate said. “And just as performers, they’re more confident. They blossomed as performers — in some ways, this show is happening at the right time because I feel they’re really ready.”

If the show is greenlit past eight episodes, followup seasons likely will parallel the group’s real-life encounters with industry stalwarts and hitting the road. First, Pate said, he is setting up the foundation.

“We have big ambitions for where the story goes,” he said. “But the first season is kind of like the beginning.”

Also joining the cast is Pate’s daughter, Lilah, as the female lead. The 20-year-old was involved in community theater and first approached her father about acting during high school as “Outer Banks” was taking off.

She auditioned for “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” the hit Amazon show also filming its third season in Wilmington; it filmed seasons one and two here as well. Pate said show creator Jenny Han booked his daughter for multiple episodes.

“And she didn’t know that Lilah was the daughter of ‘Outer Banks’ creator,” he said. “Lilah got it straight-up, 100% on her own.”

She then went on to book a Mel Gibson movie and thereafter attended the School of Dramatic Arts at the University of Southern California.

“She earned her stripes for this role,” Pate said of “The Runarounds.” “It’s the greatest blessing to play make believe in this incredibly fun way with your kid, who is this wide-open, super curious, fascinating young person.”

The show is a family affair, in fact, as Pate’s wife Jennifer secured a producing credit. His twin brother, Josh, and “Outer Banks” showrunner Shannon Burke are executive producing, along with Wilcox, Joon Yun, Lisa Mae Fincannon, Scott Lambert and Skydance TV’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Matt Thunell. 

“It’s great to do a show with friends and family,” Pate said.

Last year, he said the inspiration to do “The Runarounds” came from his love for Chapel Hill band Dillon Fence from the ‘90s. He saw them while his brother attended UNC.

Pate and his brother grew up in Raeford, North Carolina, though Jonas now lives in the Port City. He has wanted to set up another series in town for years; the 2005 TV show “Surface,” from Pate and his brother, shot in the area but was canceled after one season.

“Finally, after 17 years I get to do it again,” Pate said.

The filmmaker originally penned “Outer Banks” to take place in Wilmington — hence its many references to areas like Masonboro and Figure 8. However, Netflix moved it to Charleston due to the North Carolina’s passing of House Bill 2, which many critics said discriminated against the transgender community; it has since dissolved.

Outer Banks” eventually returned to the area in the fall 2023 to film a few scenes in Wilmington and Fort Fisher. “The Runarounds” will be in town longer, filming from July through October, according to Pate.

There will be 150 to 200 crew members working the show, mostly locals, many of whom also serve as crew on “Outer Banks.” Pate said he’s already thinking of locations to set up in town; he’d love to have cameras rolling in his own neighborhood, Shandy Point.

“But I’d probably drive my neighbors crazy,” Pate said.

Shooting will take place after “Outer Banks” season four wraps.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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