“Roll sound.” “Sound rolling!”
“Roll cameras.” “Cameras rolling!”
Those are the things you might hear on the set of a Hollywood movie, but here lately they’ve echoed through the foothills and town streets of Wilkes County, as one of our native sons, Ritchie Allen Greer, shoots scenes for his latest independent film, “Weekend Warriors.”
Ritchie and I go way back, all the way to West Wilkes High School in the late 1980s. We both ran track for Coach Charles Wright, and if memory serves we ran on the same 4x400 meter relay team when he was a senior in 1988 and I was a junior.
Early last week, Ritchie and his crew filmed several driving scenes on River Road in North Wilkesboro, after setting up his base of operations at Wilkes Steel. The driving scenes were basically the beginning of the main characters’ adventure, he told me.
Normally driving or chase scenes are very difficult to film, but Ritchie told me that because of the overwhelming assistance of the North Wilkesboro fire and police departments, the filming was a breeze. He was quick to give special thanks to Wilkes County Film Commissioner Terri Parsons, Fire Chief Jimmy Martin, Police Chief Joe Rankin (who gave chase in his police cruiser during the scenes), Rob Horne, and North Wilkesboro Mayor Robert Johnson.
I was able to visit the River Road set on Tuesday, and even helped out my old friend by flying my drone over the road during a movie scene as Rankin gave chase to two vehicles filled with actors.
It was a nerve-racking experience trying to keep up with the speedy vehicles, because normally I’m not chasing anything with my drone. Making the task even more tough was a gusty wind blowing that afternoon that made the drone even more difficult to control.
On Friday afternoon, I was able to meet up with Ritchie again, this time in a more rural setting off Stanton Loop Road, in the Parsonsville community of northwestern Wilkes County. Again, my drone was chasing the action, but this time it was easier to keep up because the actors were riding four-wheelers up a big grassy farm valley.
It was a rather cool moment to replay the footage immediately after shooting it, with about a dozen members of the cast and crew crowded around me trying to sneak a peek on the small five-inch LCD screen.
It was also gratifying to hear Ritchie say, “I can just see it now on screen, with some dramatic music in the background!” I’d consider just a few seconds of actual on-screen time to be a victory for my drone and its nonprofessional pilot.
This past weekend, Ritchie said he filmed the paintball war scenes, which turned out great. He said special thanks are due to “Paintball Pete” Russell and Command Decision War Games for “putting a great team together to battle against my ‘Weekend Warriors.’”
Ritchie said his biggest challenge so far has been getting all his shots in within the allotted time schedule, but his dedicated crew has been up for the challenge. “It starts with having a positive attitude even under challenging circumstances,” he added.
The filming of “Weekend Warriors” continues this week and the next, but even if I knew where they’re filming next, I wouldn’t write about it. With all the moving parts that is a film set, it gets even harder when you’re having to deal with the distractions of the general public, who are quite naturally curious when they see something unusual going down in their neck of the woods.
“We’re looking forward to the next couple of weeks of filming in this welcoming environment,” Ritchie told me last week of his homecoming in Wilkes.
I regrettably wasn’t able to attend the red-carpet reception and public screening of Ritchie’s film “Underdog” at Two Rivers Cinema on Thursday, but Ritchie told me the screening went very well.
He added, “I had several people come up to me and told me they cried several times throughout the movie, which for me means everything. If I can take a story and move people to tears, I feel I’ve done my job as a writer-director.”