Movies Filmed in Madison County, North Carolina
Once filmmakers discovered the unique settings in the small towns and the rural roads, the friendly residents were just an added plus to those who chose our area to make their movies. One of the most memorable movies that cast a few of our local residents was filmed just over the county line–Songcatcher. If there is a film that captures Madison County’s cultural heritage, that movie would be it. As the locals say, there’s a fiddler or ballad singer in almost every “holler” here.
Trapper County (1989)
Filmed in the quarry near Marshall. Residents remember how the Madison County Sheriff Dedrick Brown was giving a tour of the jail to the first director. One inmate asked, “What are y’all doing?” When told that they were getting ready to film a movie, the inmate asked what it was about. After he was told the plot, he said, “That’s the story of my life. Can I be in your movie?”
Take two city boys from New Jersey and put them in a small southern town. Mix in a love triangle involving one of those boys, a local girl and her local redneck boyfriend. The result is a feud in the backwoods of North Carolina. The city boys are Rob Estes and Noah Black; Don Swayze is the young local and Bo Hopkins and Ernie Hudson are the good locals who attempt to help the boys. (Rob Ester, Don Swayze, Bo Hopkins, Ernie Hudson)
Coupe De Ville (1990)
Filmed on River Road and in the town of Marshall. Residents remember the building at the corner of Hill Street and Main painted with a billboard-size sign proclaiming “Welcome to Kentucky–Home of Jim Beam.”
Just a fun movie for those who have siblings with different personalities. Put them together in a car and go on a road trip and the humor ensues. In this movie, the three meet for the first time in five years. Their object is to drive home an old Cadillac that their father bought for their mother’s 50th birthday. During the long ride home they get to know each other once again. Laugh and cry. (Patrick Dempsey, Arye Gross, Daniel Stern, Alan Arkin)
Loose Cannons (1990)
Filmed on the railroad between Marshall and Hot Springs. Residents have fond memories of Dom DeLuise interacting with all the Hot Springs townspeople. The movie company paid local kids to get rid of snakes along the railroad tracks when filming there.
An implausible plot with some silly scenes serves as a backdrop for this cop buddy movie. Before Jim Carrey cornered the market on goofiness in comedies, Dan Aykroyd was the actor who filled this slot. Gene Hackman is a cop who is traveling with all his possessions in his car when he is called to a crime scene. There, he gets paired up with Aykroyd to capture criminals and discovers some quirks in Aykroyd’s behavior–multiple personalities which appear at the strangest times. (Gene Hackman, Dan Aykroyd, Dom DeLuise)
My Fellow Americans (1996)
Filmed in Downtown Marshall. Residents remember a very friendly James Garner walking into the classrooms in the old school on Blannahassett Island to talk to the students.
Two former presidents—and rivals—played by Jack Lemmon and James Garner are drawn together in a common goal involving the current President played by Dan Aykroyd. What happens is a road trip taking them to the southern Appalachians to clear their names. The dialogue is filled with sharp comedy and great interaction between the stars and the other cast members. (Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Dan Aykroyd)
A Good Baby (2000)
Filmed at Stackhouse
Against the backdrop of the beautiful North Carolina mountains, this film depicts the heart and simplicity of the mountain people. A young boy encounters an abandoned baby and while seeking the parents, begins to develop a bond with the child. The story of the baby’s background is revealed and more truths become clear. (Henry Thomas, David Strathairn)
Filmed in nearby Barnardsville but has a young fiddle player named Josh Goforth (a Madison County native) in one scene and employed Sheila Kay Adams ( a Madison County native and musician/singer/storyteller) as a banjo player and vocal consultant.
Songcatcher won the 2000 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance and not only are there performances that justify such an award, but also a wonderful recounting of the Scots-Irish ballad tradition that was preserved by the people in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The story is based loosely on the life of Olive Campbell (Mrs John C) who contacted Cecil Sharp in England about collecting ballads in the mountains of Western North Carolina—including Madison County. A musicologist visits her sister who runs a school in Appalachia and discovers this treasure of ballads and begins to collect them. (Janet McTeer, Aidan Quinn, Emmy Rossum)
All the Real Girls (2003)
Filmed in Downtown Marshall
The movie (a Sundance selection) is not just a story of love between two young people but about the love of family and friends. There is an openness in the dialogue of these small industrial town inhabitants where the heart of the story is where a boy falls in love with his best friend’s sister. The problem is that the boy has a reputation of breaking hearts and this leads to tension between the two best friends. (Zooey Deschanel, Patricia Clarkson, Paul Schneider)
The Hunger Games (2012)
Filmed less than five miles from downtown Marshall –used as the woods outside of District 12 where Katniss and Gale hunt. The scene where Gale asked Katniss to run away with him showcases the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains from one of the local resident’s properties. The twelve-foot tall electric fence had to be erected to re-create the division between woods and District 12 on another resident’s beautiful piece of land.
The Hunger Games is the first in the trilogy of a story set in the future. The Capitol in the new country of Panem forces one boy and girl from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television in an annual competition. The heroine Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match because she feels that she has a better chance of survival. (Jennifer Lawrence)