A recently released movie detailing the story of a dog that helped U.S. Marines in Afghanistan and then returns to the U.S. has ties to the Elkin area.
Filmed last year along N.C. 268, “Max” tells the story of a dog helping Marines in Afghanistan. According to a recent press release, film-goers who look closely may notice the backdrop for Max’s new mission in the U.S. is North Carolina.
North Carolina has been a prominent setting for recent films, including the DuPont State Forest, a short distance off U.S. 64 near Brevard, that is prominently featured in the film.
“It’s so beautiful. All the different types of areas, the forest, the waterfalls, all the little cities around,” said hiker Kevin Toshner of Greensboro. “It’s got everything you need for a movie.”
According to the press release, Hollywood plots also have made the forest frightening. DuPont was the site of Katniss Everdeen’s first foray into “The Hunger Games,” which led many to discover the scenery for themselves. “Many times, when these locations are shown, it’s like a commercial for North Carolina and our beautiful sites,” said Guy Gaster, director of the North Carolina Film Office. “You can certainly see a correlation between visitor attendance figures after productions are shown, like we saw with the forest after ‘The Hunger Games’ and Chimney Rock after ‘Last of the Mohicans’ came out.”
There’s a lot of responsibility making the real world look as good as the digitized Hollywood version, the press release states. It’s a mission accomplished with the help of the state forest service, and the roadside environmental teams of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
“We know visitors come to the mountains expecting them to look as pristine as they’ve seen portrayed, and have the area be as nice as their friends and relatives who vacationed here told them it was,” said Richard Queen, NCDOT division roadside environmental engineer. “We want to exceed their expectations, from beautiful landscaping to litter-free roadsides.”
Roadside environmental crews from NCDOT’s 14 statewide divisions cultivate award winning wildflower beds, maintain everything growing along the roadways, and protect waterways and animal habitats. Their work plays an important part in making a good first impression to visitors, as well as filmmakers who drive from shoot locations to their hotels and area restaurants.
The North Carolina visitor’s website www.visitnc.com, lists tours of locations where well-known films such as “The Longest Ride” were inspired and filmed. Among those attractions are Surry County’s Mitchell River House and numerous farmlands used in the films.
“Preserving the natural beauty of North Carolina is so very important,” said Division Roadside Environmental Engineer Jason Joyce, whose crew takes care of N.C. 268 near Elkin. A railroad trestle there at the junction of the Yadkin and Mitchell rivers also is seen in “Max.”
“You can’t find scenery like this just anywhere. We’re glad it attracts Hollywood and tourists,” added Joyce, “but it’s also a big reason a lot of folks want to live here. We’re proud to care for it.”
Films such as “Dirty Dancing,” shot on location in Lake Lure, to “Dawson’s Creek,” a television show filmed in Wilmington, productions continue to fuel film tourism. The North Carolina Division of Tourism’s website features links for road trips to scenes used in TV and movies, including the new film “Max,” “Nights in Rodanthe” and “Under the Dome.”
Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.