An HBO movie starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn as women on a mission to wipe out malaria kicked off filming in the Cape Fear region Monday.
Crews with “Mary and Martha” began to set up filming equipment on East Bay Street in Southport early in the day, said Regina Alexander, Southport’s city clerk. The Working Title/BBC production is expected to film at a home there and at Trinity United Methodist Church in the coastal Brunswick County community through mid-week, she said.
The church, on East Nash Street, is a new addition to the film, said Trinity Trustee Ronnie Pickler, of Oak Island.
A few weeks ago, “Mary and Martha” scouts looking for filming locations got word that children at the church’s vacation-bible camp were raising money to buy mosquito nets to send to needy children in Africa, Pickler said.
The church’s mission fit right in with the film’s story.
“The vacation bible school program taught the children about malaria and how the mosquito nets work. The kids raised money to buy the nets with some of their artwork and donations from church members,” Pickler said. “I’ve heard that when the director saw the children’s work, he wrote them and the nets into the film.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, filmmakers will shoot footage of the nets, campers and their artwork, and parishioners, Pickler said. They also will film a funeral scene, he said.
Filmmakers will then move to Wilmington, which will stand in as Washington, D.C., and shoot scenes at homes in the Forest Hills neighborhood and at such sites as New Hanover’s Historic Courthouse at 24 N. Third St.
Before filming got under way, a group of lucky fans met Swank, an Academy-Award winning actress, after camera tests at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Thursday.
Lauren Cunningham, 21, and her twin sister, Ashley, of Birmingham, Ala., were vacationing in Wilmington during the Fourth of July holiday when they got word that filming was taking place at the university.