Bringing film industry to industrial site


By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Richard Evans imagines the undead roaming among the shuttered buildings of the old steel plant property in Gadsden, or perhaps military operations, or any variety of post-apocalyptic scenarios one might see on the silver – or TV – screen.

Evans’ company Black Creek Productions possesses the rights to market the steel plant property for media productions – in essence, to try to bring film or television productions in to the Gadsden area to use the site as a location.

Some areas of the steel plant property remain in use for industry, Evans said, and the property currently is being marketed for industrial use, too. That may be a tough sell in the present economy, and Evans thinks the film industry might be an easier draw to the property now.

He’s already had some location scouts on site and had some positive response. One scout told him “I could film 100 movies here and never use the same location twice,” Evans said.

In addition to 900 acres of property, there are many buildings on the site.

According to Evans, the owner of the property “wouldn’t mind if some of those buildings went away.” The prospect of a building that could be blown up, he said, could be a drawing card for film productions.

Evans is a former military man, and a current collector of military vehicles. He’s supplied military vehicles for movie productions, and has many friends who do the same thing.

There’s some precedence for location filming locally: several years ago a scene for “Failure to Launch” was filmed in the old Runt’s building, which now houses the Downtown Gadsden, Inc. and Commercial Development Authority offices.

Another scene was filmed in Cherokee County, and movies have used the Talladega Speedway, among other sites for filming. Independent film director and Gadsden native Steven Satterwhite filmed scenes for a movie, “Survive the Innocent” at Noccalula Falls and other sites in Gadsden.

With Noccalula Falls, Fort McClellan and other potential sites available, Evans thinks there is a good chance of bringing movie and television productions to the northeast Alabama area.

There is a large film industry in the Atlanta and the surrounding area, most obviously with the AMC series “The Walking Dead,” filmed in Georgia.

“When a production company comes in from California,” Evans said, “they don’t bring their own carpenters or electricians.”

While Evans doesn’t plan to get rich from this enterprise, he said the thinks it would be great to bring some new jobs to the area.

“I went all over the world and I never found anywhere I’d rather be than Gadsden. I would love to be able to put some people to work here. There’s talent in Gadsden,” Evans said.

Evans has his own ambitions in film. He’s planning an event in March at Gadsden Convention Hall to raise money for an independent horror film he plans to make at the steel plant.

Part of the event will be a stunt demonstration.

Evans said the local response he’s had from city officials and individuals has been positive – especially to the potential of jobs or increased business in Gadsden.

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