Saturday, June 25, 2022

Remembering Chunky Huse: Wilmington film community mourns movie industry icon

Walter “Chunky” Huse worked in the film business for close to 50 years. He died Saturday from a massive heart attack (Source: Mike Satrazemis)

Note: This article originally appeared at WECT and is being reprinted with permission.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Chunky Huse was known for his raspy voice, British accent, and flashy attire. He could energize a room by simply walking in.

“He was the life of any party,” said Jock Brandis, who worked with Huse in the Wilmington film industry for close to three decades.

His exuberance and million dollar smile are descriptive, but it’s his work in the movie business that’s defining.

Huse’s resume of films reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood. That’s because it is. His credits include working on movies from Star Wars to Batman Begins. He was the key grip on films including The Last of the Mohicans, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a film that eventually made $390 million at the global box office. His credits can be found on IMDb.com.

Huse worked on over 100 films — nationally and internationally. It was his trailblazing work with the local film industry, though, that helped Wilmington become known as Hollywood East.

Huse died Saturday morning of a massive heart attack at his home.

Since his passing, friends have reflected on the man they say knew the production aspect of the movie business better than anyone.

“Chunky was my best friend,” said Tom Priestly. “Chunky’s greatest asset was not only his expertise as a production key grip, but his overwhelming personality and gracious smile that would captivate your attention. Chunky possessed a wealth of valuable information that was invaluable to the production and the cinematographer with whom he collaborated.”

Huse, 80, first came to Wilmington in 1984 after movie producer Dino DeLaurentis bought a facility here on 23rd St. and opened Screen Gems Studios. He would later make Wilmington his permanent home in 1992.

“Chunky with Mike Satrazemis, Jock Brandis and myself started up Cine Partners here in Wilmington in 1993,” said John Ferguson, who knew Huse for over 40 years. “Chunky being the forever gypsy on the look out for a deal. He calls us from Scotland where he was working on the feature Rob Roy. He says ‚‘Hey mates, I’m using this great camera crane here — it’s amazingly light and fast. We should look into it. It could be a money maker.’ To make a long story short, Cine Partners became the North American distributor for the Giraffe Crane System from Capetown, South Africa, which helped revolutionize aerial shooting. He was always looking for the next deal.”

Mike Satrazemis, CEO of Filmwerks, LLC and close friend of Huse, remembers him as a man who helped so many find their footing in the film business.

“Chunky was a guy who cared about everyone,” Satrazemis said. “A real giver and could excite you about anything. He rigged some of the world’s most wonderful movies and brought so many young guys and girls up the ladder of filmmaking.”

Steve Bax, a longtime production worker in the film business, was one of those young guys. He met Huse years ago and remained friends with him–even becoming a tenant in recent times in one of Huse’s rental properties. He says Huse was the best in the business.

“Chunky is one of the original film guys in the early 80′s who taught many grips what gripping is all about,” Bax said. “He was one of the kindest, most hard working men I ever met.”

Below: Video of Huse in his home garage.

Huse was notorious for helping people in and out of the business.

“When I was with The Full Belly Project, he bought us a pickup truck the moment we needed it,” Brandis says.

Huse worked on many locally-produced movies, including Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Juwanna Man.

“His part in the film business here was to almost instantly help create a world class local film crew base because we were making big movies from day one,” said Brandis. “The local crews adored him. And there was literally no problem in terms of making the camera do impossible things, that he had not encountered before.”

Huse would likely say his greatest achievement was marrying his wife, Nini Rogan, his soulmate who was by her husband’s side when he took his final breath.

He was also the proud father of five children who live in England where Huse was born and raised. He also is survived by 24 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.

His film family, meanwhile, grieves the loss of a vibrant soul who left an indelible mark on their lives forever.

“We were simpatico,” said Priestly. “Chunky was truly a wonderful human being and I will miss him forever. Goodbye, my friend.”

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.

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