by Sara Gurkin
Some would say he knows every nook and cranny in and around the city of Wilmington. It’s his job to, actually. As an assistant location manager for many of the major film productions that come into town, CFCC graduate Kasey Kiser works hard to solidify filming locations that Wilmington residents may even recognize on screen. His most recent project was to find locations for a new television pilot for ABC TV called Secrets & Lies. This job led him right back where he got his start in the industry – on the campus of Cape Fear Community College.
As one of the very first students to enroll in CFCC’s film and video production program over 10 years ago, Kasey Kiser has certainly made a name for himself in the Wilmington film industry.
Since his start at CFCC in 2002, Kiser has gone on to work as an assistant location manager for productions that come to the Wilmington area. His list of work includes almost all the major films and shows that have come to the area within the past five years. Some big titles include Revolution, Sleepy Hollow, One Tree Hill, Mary and Martha, and Tammy. His favorite project so far: working on the first and third seasons of Eastbound & Down, starring Danny McBride.
Originally from Shelby, NC, Kiser moved to Wilmington in 2002 because he wanted to do something different. He discovered CFCC’s film and video production program and decided to enroll.
During his time as a student at CFCC, Kiser got a glimpse of what it’s like to work in the film industry through the program’s structure. He said the program “teaches in a way that shows a wide variety of every department and the need for it, as well as what is expected from each.”
Kiser explained that the program’s lead instructor, Duke Fire, also shared stories from his own past experiences working in the film industry, and helped facilitate a strong bond between his students and instilled dedication and trust in their work ethic.
“We learned the dedication it takes to live this life, the sacrifices, the blood, sweat and tears. The lack of sleep, the loss of nearly all things connected to the outside world and if it’s worthwhile to each of us… and we love every minute of it,” Kiser said.
After graduating in 2005, Kiser worked as the Technical Director for the Cucalorus Film Foundation, where he submitted a few short films produced at CFCC to be played in the film festival. He was then hired as a production assistant and boom operator for smaller features in town and worked as an assistant location manager for commercials. With every new job, Kiser made new connections which led him to more opportunities in Wilmington. “Around 2009 and 2010 the industry really started to take off here,” he added.
“The most fun part of my job is seeing the scripts before everyone else, and working with the director and production designer to get an idea of the direction they’re looking to go or what visions they have when it comes to finding locations,” Kiser said.
However, there is much more that Kiser deals with than just finding the “perfect” place to film.
“A lot of my job involves getting information from property owners, talking to neighbors, figuring out orderly parking, and working with the police,” Kiser explained. “There is a lot of work to get contracts approved and getting the necessary permits we need to film.”
With the pilot of Secrets & Lies filming on campus at CFCC, Kiser remains optimistic for the future of the film industry in Wilmington. He is pleased that Wilmington has so many projects to get involved with, and is hopeful that more CFCC Film and Video Production students can find a way to get involved. Lead Instructor Duke Fire remains a close friend of Kiser’s and the two collaborate whenever Kiser could use some help. He even tries to recruit students from the program for certain productions in town.
“Now I get to be the one that visits or helps with CFCC projects and I notice the people working hard, keeping at it, going after it. I can now be one that helps get people their first day, or point them in the right direction. It’s a great feeling to pass it along, to pay it forward,” Kiser said.
Before getting back to converting the fifth floor of Union Station into a police station, he provided some parting advice for those looking to find their break into the industry. “Right now is your chance to shine. Make those connections and meet everyone you can. You never know where they could take you.”