The town of Wilmington, North Carolina is often referred to as “Filmington.” TV shows such as Eastbound and Down and Dawson’s Creek were locally-based. Wilmington is also home to a range of films; from the David Lynch classic Blue Velvet to summer blockbusters like Iron Man. Unfortunately, North Carolina tax laws may push this lucrative business down to Atlanta and New Orleans, which are more film-friendly.
But whether or not the film industry flees North Carolina, John West is in Wilmington to stay, thankyouverymuch. West has been in the business for over 20 years, and while work led him to Los Angeles for over a decade, he was thrilled to return to North Carolina. He and his four dogs feel quite comfortable in this historic home, with two-story columns out front flanked by twin palms. He has his beloved boat for weekend excursions. Not to mention his mother, who lives nearby. Not only are they close friends, but Martha West is such an impeccable cook, that I wouldn’t want to be too far from her myself.
The weekend we visited, the film industry held a demonstration to keep production local. West’s girlfriend Kate Gibbs even made the news, speaking up for the cause. It was a relaxing weekend, kicked off by a thunderstorm that knocked out power in West’s neighborhood. It was a welcome event. We lit candles, poured some bourbon and sat on the front porch rockers, catching up.
We ate at one of the best restaurants I’d ever visited, called Rx. This former pharmacy has a modest look that belies some serious artistry in the kitchen. Our accommodations were beyond compare – we stayed in a guest house fully-equipped with a bathroom and kitchen, and well-decorated interiors.
The best part of the trip however, was the boat ride. We cruised waterways that slid by restaurants and bars. We passed tiny islands that appear and disappear depending on the tide. I almost forgot I was in an industry town until we sped past the modern home which was the setting of Sleeping with the Enemy. We even skirted close to Cape Fear, made famous by the Scorcese thriller starring Robert DeNiro, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis.
It was a nice slice of Hollywood, but just a sliver of a slice. Only in the South can one expect a pickled okra in their Bloody Mary!