WILMINGTON — Daniel Peddle had chills as he recalled the steps leading up to the creation of his film, “Moss,” which will play at Cucalorus.
“I found this guy at Cucalorus and now he has done so much in the fashion world as a male model,” Peddle said. “He’s considered one of the top male models in the whole world.”
Peddle discovered Mitchell Slaggert in 2015, when Slaggert was walking to his car after class at Cape Fear Community College. Peddle owns a casting company based in New York and was visiting Wilmington for the Cucalorus release of his motion picture, “Sunset Edge.”
Peddle said he noticed Slaggert as they passed each other on the sidewalk, and almost didn’t say anything.
“It felt like the universe tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘go back and get that guy,’” Peddle remembered. Ever since that fateful day, Slaggert has received heavy recognition from the fashion industry and has become the face of Calvin Klein.
Peddle recruited Slaggert to be the lead in “Moss” after finding out that Slaggert also had a hidden knack for acting.
Slaggert wasn’t the only person new to the film industry who took part in the creation of “Moss,” which was shot entirely in the Carolina Beach area.
Peddle said, “I really just looked for every single opportunity where I could involve someone locally. Not just out of need, but also because I wanted the film to have this certain texture and authenticity that only people who live there are truly gonna know about.”
The production manager, producer, driftwood artist and master carpenter are a few positions that Peddle scouted locally.
Wilmington’s own Shaw Lakey was the driftwood artist and provided some of his pieces for use. Though Lakey didn’t play the artist in the movie, he became a muse for Peddle, who changed the casted artist’s personality to better reflect Lakey’s.
At first, Peddle had planned to depict the artist in his film as an eccentric, kooky outsider character.
“Once we met someone who really does do this down there, we tailored this script to reflect the reality of someone there,” Peddle said. “We got rid of all our stereotypical ideas around the weird outsider, isolated artist, and rethought the character in the light of someone who really does that.”
Lakey, who’s artwork can be found at The Gallery of Fine Art, soon became an even more integral part of the process by helping Peddle find the perfect filming locations hidden along the nooks and crannies of the Cape Fear River.
“If for nothing else, locals should go see this movie for the beautiful native scenery and the water shots …”
“I knew all these places on the river because that’s were I go get the driftwood,” Lakey said.
Peddle wanted the movie to paint a portrait of the beauty and biodiversity of Carolina Beach. Lakey commented Peddle’s effort saying, “if for nothing else, locals should go see this movie for the beautiful native scenery and the water shots and river shots and the swamp— because we’re losing that to a degree.”
The “Moss” director has always had a love for Carolina Beach after being homegrown outside of Winston Salem. Carolina Beach was his family’s go-to vacation spot and now his parents own a cottage there. Peddle calls it a writer’s retreat, since it’s where he’s written all five of his screenplays.
“Moss” has already been screened in a few other film festivals through the United States, but Peddle said the Cucalorus screening will be the journey of his past two years coming full circle.
“To come back and show the film to a local audience, to the local people who helped us make this film, and at the festival where this all sort of came together, it’s just incredible,” Peddle said.