Thursday, February 9, 2023

Watch the trailer for this homegrown thriller filming in Wilmington

WILMINGTON — Bennett Pellington initially wanted to shoot a feature length film, but that would have required more money than most independent filmmakers have on their own. The solution? Shoot a short film that proves he’s got the goods.

“It was definitely going to cost more than I had, and more than most producers would give someone who hadn’t made a feature film before,” Pellington said.

Rewriting his script, Pellington got to work producing “Miner’s Mountain” as a short film. Working with a team of local filmmakers – including fellow Wilmingtonian Eli Wallace-Johansson as director of photography – Pellington shot a short project. The two had previous worked on the 2014 short film “My Visitor,” which won “Best Acting” in the My Rode Reel international film competition, beating out thousands of competitors. (You can watch “The Visitor” here.)

According to Pellington, hopes were high.

“It was an exciting shoot. We shot about a 10-minute film, up in Boone. We were going for a thriller, set against that mountainous, southern feel. I think you can get a good sense of that in the trailer,” Pellington said. “But ultimately what we had didn’t quite feel like it was something that stood on its own.”

Pellington returned to Wilmington with his team. According to Pellington, the variety of environments in the Cape Fear area made it possible to provide some continuity with the footage from the Boone shoot. The location made it easier for the crew to work, since most are from the area. It also made it easier for those who have left Wilmington for work in Georgia to return.

“It’s been tough, with the work moving to Atlanta. But this was an easier location for those people to come back to,” Pellington said.

Pellington hopes to complete filming on the short this August. While Pellington said he was excited for “Miner’s Mountain” as a film in its own right, it’s also an important step for him as a filmmaker.

“It’s important to be able to show a producer or an investor that, ‘here, we can create a film that’s well made and could make money, that would be worth investing in,’” Pellington said.

The film will serve as proof of concept of Pellington’s skill as a writer and director, he said. But he also hopes it will serve as example of the quality of film Wilmington can make.

“People got upset that film was leaving when ‘Avengers’ or ‘Walking Dead’ went to Georgia, but I don’t want to be one of the people saying ‘keep film alive’ in Wilmington, because it’s still here,” Pellington said. “It’s one thing to say there are talented people making film here, but when you can see it, then – I hope – it’s easier for people to get behind it.”

While Pellington’s next project may have a multi-million dollar budget, “Miner’s Mountain” is running on a much more modest budget. Early shoots were paid for out of pocket, but now the film is running an Indiegogo fundraiser to raise $4,000. According to Pellington, that’s the bare minimum needed to pay the cast and crew.

“Miner’s Mountain” will shoot in early August. The short film will feature Anthony Reynolds (“The Hunger Games,” “Prisoners”), Myke Holmes (“The Walking Dead,” “House of Cards”) and Henry Bazemore, Jr. (“Six,” “Good Behavior”).

You can find more information about the film or to contribute to the fundraising campaign here.

Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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