BRUNSWICK COUNTY — A low-budget independent film with star-power celebs will start filming in the sleepy seaside city of Southport Monday.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lily James are the leading roles in “The Problem With Providence.” The Wilmington Film Commission website has listed the project in pre-production for several weeks. Few details are known about the plot of the indie, but sources familiar with the project describe it as a dark comedy.
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According to city film permits, the production will shoot for exactly one month, from May 9 through June 9, and has scouted a variety of local businesses. Locations include Southport Ace Hardware, Edgewater 122, Potter’s Seafood, Riverside Motel, Old Smithville Cemetary, Bald Head Island Ferry, Southport Ferry Terminal, Mullett Bar and the city pier. Marine Services Pro is being used as a “shipping container boatyard.”
Most businesses are being portrayed as their existing uses in the film, but in several cases, set designers will transform establishments: Lantana’s Gallery will become a coffee shop, the Trolly Stop will convert into a diner, and the International Longshoremen’s Association on West 10th Street will act as the police department.
Leggett Road will be “Providence Road” in the movie.
The production also pulled permits to capture scenes at several private residences and a houseboat at Safe Harbor South Harbour Village.
Joey Lauren Adams (“Chasing Amy”), stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan and Himesh Patel (“Yesterday”) are part of the 24-person cast. Wilmington-based Marty Siu Casting is currently recruiting experienced stand-ins for the five stars.
Gordon-Levitt possesses a strong reputation in Hollywood, earning Golden Globe Award nominations for his performances in “500 Days of Summer” and “50/50.” His co-star, James, is skyrocketing in popularity, fresh off the success of her Hulu hit “Pam & Tommy,” in which she portrays Pamela Anderson. She’s also starred in “Cinderella,” “Mama Mia! Here We Go Again” and “Baby Driver.”
“The Problem With Providence” will create just over 100 crew jobs and at least 60 extra positions.
The director is Potsy Ponciroli, who most recently worked on “Old Henry” and “Ted K” in 2021, and “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” in 2019. Shannon Houchins, Kevin Brennan and Dylan Sellers are producers, sources say.
It is the second major production to shoot in Southport in recent months. Late last year, Mel Gibson and Mason Thames (“The Black Phone,” also filmed in Wilmington in 2021) wrapped “Boys of Summer,” a family adventure movie directed by David Henrie (“Wizards of Waverly Place”). Southport’s mayor honored the controversial actor, Gibson, with a key to the city and declared a “Mel Gibson Day.”
So far, 2022 has been a slow year for film in the southeast compared to the record-breaking 2021. Production is expected to ramp back up to match levels of the previous year when projects made a more than $400-million economic splash across the state. The bulk of that impact — $300-plus million — was in Wilmington. Amazon’s “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and STARZ’s “Hightown” are returning for renewed seasons.
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