Monday, April 15, 2024

Amazon/MGM’s ‘Merv’ to roll in Wilmington this spring

A new production is planned for Wilmington in 2024. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — So far, it’s been the year of Amazon on the local film scene. Another production from the streamer is scheduled to shoot in the area.

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The feature film “Merv” — directed by Jessica Swale and produced by LightWorkers Media and Matt Baer Films — will be rolling cameras by April, Cinemaholic reported earlier this month. No film permits have been pulled for the production yet according to the city. 

IMDb confirms Wilmington as the location, as did Swale who took to social media Monday evening upon her trip stateside from South London.

A Laurence Olivier award-winning playwright, Swale gained recognition in 2016 for her script “Nell Gwynn” (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gemma Arterton), which won Best New Comedy Award. 

She is taking on “Merv” with husband-and-wife writing team Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart. The movie follows the love story of a couple who has split but share custody of their dog, Merv. The pooch isn’t handling the breakup so well and when his male human, Russ, takes him on a Florida vacation to cheer him up, Russ’ ex Anna shows up. Feelings may or may not rekindle.

According to the writers’ credentials, the script was sold to MGM/Amazon, which joined forces in 2022. Clark and Stewart have won the WGA Award for their web series “The Commute” and released their first feature, a romantic comedy and thriller “Put a Hit on You,” in 2014, followed by “Suze” last year.

Swale got her start in the entertainment industry by writing the 2013 play “Blue Stockings,” which premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe (it was produced last year by Cape Fear Community College’s theater department). Her original works also are being adapted for the screen currently: “Nell Gwynn” as a film and “Blue Stockings” as a TV series.

Swale entered the film industry in 2018 with the release of the short “Leading Lady Parts,” a comedy based on the Time’s Up movement and starring Catherine Tate, Gemma Arterton, Felicity Jones, Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Tom Hiddleston and Gemma Chan. Her original feature screenplay and directorial debut for the big screen came in 2020 with “Summerland” (Gemma Arterton), also available on Prime.

It’s not Swale’s first time working with the streamer; she directed three episodes of the British comedy “Ten Percent” in 2022. In addition to taking on “Merv” — cast have yet to be announced — she is writing the book for a musical based on Paddington the bear, to launch in the U.K. by 2025.

“Merv” is the second Amazon production to film in the area this year. The third season of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is also in pre-production currently, set up at Cinespace, formerly EUE/Screen Gems Studios. 

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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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