Kevin Williamson – Bringing Hollywood to North Carolina
Ever since New Bern native Kevin Williamson brought his hit series Dawson’s Creek to North Carolina to film for six seasons, Hollywood has been following his lead to the Tarheel State.
The show premiered on January 20, 1998 on The WB network and introduced the world to future 3-time Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn), as well as the future Mrs. Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes (Batman Begins).
The show was filmed at Wilmington’s EUE/Screen Gems studios and on location around Wilmington, Southport and Wrightsville Beach. College scenes in the fifth and sixth seasons were also shot at Duke University in Durham, and additional shooting was done in Raleigh, giving Dawson’s Creek the distinction of being North Carolina’s most successful network television series so far.
Prior to Dawson’s Creek, Williamson wrote the screenplay for the hit horror film Scream (1996), which introduced audiences to a new icon of fear.
Following the success of Scream, Williamson scored again with both The Faculty (1998) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), which was also filmed in Southport, NC.
Williamson and Holmes worked together again in 1999 in the writer’s directorial debut, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, originally titled ‘Killing Mrs. Tingle’ but changed following the Columbine tragedy.
Williamson was born in New Bern, NC, where his mother was a professional storyteller and his father a fisherman. His family moved away prior to Kevin’s high school years, but he returned home to attend East Carolina University in Greenville, where he earned a B.A. in theater arts.
Williamson’s current hit, The Vampire Diaries premiered on The CW network in 2009 and quickly became one of the network’s most popular shows.
His newest series, The Secret Circle debuted also on The CW in September 2011, starring another North Carolina native, Britt Robertson (Scream 4), named in 2011 as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s Most Wanted Women on Television.
Last year, Williamson returned to write the screenplay for the fourth installment of the killer franchise that put he and (indirectly) North Carolina on the Hollywood map. You can view the official trailer for 2011’s Scream 4 using the player below!
The fact that he named his production company Outerbanks Entertainment (no relation to this site) is perhaps Kevin Williamson’s ultimate love letter to his own home state.
Of course, Hollywood did not just recently discover North Carolina, as Deliverance (1972), The Color Purple (1985), Dirty Dancing (1987), and The Crow (1994) are just a few of the major studio releases that were filmed here prior to Dawson’s, but the amount of production currently under way in the state today is at an all time record high of 119 movies and shows now filming.
Already this year, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a box office hit and the much anticipated adaptation of The Hunger Games (in theaters March 23rd) has already broken pre-opening ticket sales records at Fandango.
Now with the high profile Iron Man 3 starting production in April in Wilmington, it appears that there is no turning back in Hollywood’s ongoing migration east, which has only increased in the 14 years since Kevin Williamson and Dawson set up shop in North Carolina.