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Wednesday, 02 July 2014 16:24

Secret filming site in Waynesville to star in a major movie production

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A major motion picture starring Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and others will be partly filmed at a Waynesville location in mid-July.

 

The movie “Loomis Fargo” is billed as a comedy heist caper that follows the true story of a 1997 bank vault robbery in Charlotte by an armored car driver. A wild romp ensues as the band of misfit thieves adapt to their new-found life in the lap of luxury. The cast includes a deep bench of celebrities in the comedy genre, including but hardly limited to Kate McKinnon and Jason Sudeikis. 

While producers are tight-lipped about plans to film in Waynesville, they’ve dropped two clues.

One clue is a request to the Haywood County school system to use Hazelwood Elementary School as a staging area for movie production during the week of July 14. An invoice issued by the school system names the movie as “Loomis Fargo” and lists the contact person as Tom Parris,  who is the location manager for “Loomis Fargo.”

The school is not the site of the filming itself but will serve as a command center for operations while filming on location nearby. The invoice details use of the school parking lot, the cafeteria and a classroom but does not yet list the fee. 

Another clue: the movie producers contacted the Waynesville Police Department to inquire about hiring off-duty officers to manage the area around the filming location.

“It would basically be for standing by while they are filming in case any traffic control is needed,” said Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed.

Officially, however, the production company has not confirmed plans to film in Waynesville. Movie industry web sites report the movie will be filmed in the “Asheville area” and Wilmington. 

Publicists for the production did not reply to messages.

Movie industry web sites list the release date as August 2015.

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority has a film initiative that courts the production of movies, documentaries, reality shows, commercials and video projects here. But Becky Seymour, the marketing manager for the Haywood Film Commission, could not confirm the movie was being filmed in Waynesville specifically.

“I can confirm that it is being filmed in parts of Western North Carolina,” was all Seymour could say.

Advantage West, a regional economic development agency that also has a film recruiting arm, likewise could not confirm the production of a movie in the area.

One of the “Loomis Fargo” stars, Galafianakis, is from North Carolina. Danny McBride, a writer and executive producer for the movie, went to the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, as did one of the other writers, Jody Hill. The director is Jared Hess.

 

What’s Loomis Fargo?

An inside job, the Loomis Fargo heist in Charlotte in 1997, pulled off by an armored car driver and vault superintendent, went down as the second biggest bank robbery ever in America — more than $17 million. The Loomis Fargo vault manager teamed up with a former female employee he had a crush on, and a married couple she was friends with. 

It’s easy to see why the plot lends itself to a comedy. The crooks are all novices and their get-away is laced with foibles and double-crosses. The stolen money was nearly all in small bills, mostly $20s — an unwieldy stash to make off with, so unwieldy they had to abandon some of it. The married couple in on the deal trade in their trailer for a mansion in nearby Gastonia and begin living extravagantly, but are lousy at laundering the loot. They quickly recant on their end of the deal to wire the vault manager his cut in Mexico, and begin plotting his murder instead. 

The suspects were all eventually caught by the FBI.

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