Prior to arriving in a new city, every producer needs the lay of the land. This guide explores everything about Charlotte, North Carolina, that producers need to know.
Charlotte is a fast growing city with the elegance of the old South and the conveniences of a large urban area. Charlotte is a bustling city with big business, high tech firms, universities, pro sports teams, museums, and great restaurants. Both Bank of America and Wachovia are headquartered here in Charlotte, making it the second largest banking center in the nation (next to New York City). Small business thrives in Uptown Charlotte and where the city continues its Corridor Revitalization Project.
Charlotte provides many opportunities for higher education at Queens University, The University of North Carolina Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College, and Pfeiffer University.
The thunder of NASCAR can be heard all around the Charlotte area as it is located in the heart of NASCAR country and is home to Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Pro basketball is returning to Charlotte as the Bobcats build their home right in Uptown Charlotte. The Bobcats continue the development of a thriving center city and add to North Carolina’s family of cats, the National Football League’s 2003 NFC Champions, the Carolina Panthers.
Scattered throughout Uptown Charlotte and the surrounding metro area are art, science, and history museums to feed the mind and soul and premier restaurants to feed you! Nearly 2.1 million people live in the Charlotte metro area, 600,000 inside the city alone.
This population feeds the business of Charlotte, home to 292 of the top Fortune 500 companies, making it the fifth largest urban region in the country.
Once you’ve decided to shoot in Charlotte, North Carolina there’s plenty you should know:
Where to stay?
Are you familiar with your locations and drive times?
Do you need transportation?
How will the weather affect your shoot?
Do you know the production guidelines for the Charlotte area?
Who are the Chamber of Commerce / Visitor’s Bureau?
Have you booked the right crew?
Of course, where you stay in Charlotte depends on what and where you will be shooting. Most of the larger businesses are located in Uptown, as are several exceptional hotels including the Morehead Inn and the new Westin. These hotels are also very close to the Uptown home of the new Bobcats and the Panther’s Bank of America Stadium. Queens University and Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) are convenient to Uptown as well, whereas the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) is located North of the city in University City. Shooting at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will bring you through University City or to the Concord Mills Area, all of which have several hotels, including a Hilton in University City. NASCAR is headquartered at the track, but many of the drivers are scattered across Mooresville and Kannapolis, two smaller cities about an hour North and Northeast of the city. And you may not want to stay in an Uptown hotel if you are shooting out in the suburbs like Ballantyne, Pineville, Matthews, or Gastonia; you’ll only increase the drive time for you and your crew.
Locations and Drive Times
There are several distinct districts in Charlotte: Uptown, Myers Park, Dilworth and South End, South Park, University City, Mooresville and Race City, Concord and the Track, and Pineville/Matthews. The Charlotte airport is just West of the city and not far from the two major interstates serving the Charlotte area: I-77 (a North/South route) and I-85 (more of a East/West route, despite it’s number). From the airport and in between these locations, drive times should average thirty to forty-five minutes. It will probably require an additional ten to twenty minutes to reach locations like Mooresville and Race City, Concord and the Track, and Pineville/Matthews. Moving around Charlotte is like most other cities; it is built on a grid with some one way streets. The major North/South route is Tryon Street and the major East/West routes are Trade Street and U.S. Route 74 (Independence Boulevard).
If you are from New York or Los Angeles and have not traveled to the South, you may not know that we don’t have reliable mass transportation. You will have to rely on a taxi, rent a car, or perhaps ask the crew for transportation. Few camera crews would have difficulty providing transportation, just be sure to communicate your needs with your crew as you set up the shoot. Once you arrive at your location, allow time to park. It seems simple, but parking in Uptown can be very difficult, especially with heightened security around all of the financial institutions in Charlotte. Crews will always appreciate pre-arranged parking, it simplifies the load-in and avoids the risk of parking violations (communicate with Charlotte police department for certain parking situations). Outside of the city it gets much easier, but locations like the universities and the Lowe’s Motor Speedway may require some additional communication with a public affairs officer.
The best part of driving around Charlotte is the weather! North Carolina as a state is home to that “Carolina Blue” sky, and when the sun is out, you can see Uptown from almost every corner of the city. Temperatures in Charlotte are mild and comfortable most of the year. During the summer the average temperature is 76 degrees Fahrenheit, although in July and August the days can reach up into the 90s and the humidity can be a little trying. Winter temperatures average around 40 degrees Fahrenheit with the occasional winter blast of snow and ice. The spring and fall are always cool and close to perfect and the year rounds out with an average rainfall of 43 inches.
Crews across the country have a set of guidelines by which they conduct business. And as different as each city is from another, so are those guidelines. Every producer should have a basic understanding of each city’s standards. Shoots in Charlotte are based on a ten hour day and the crew is on the clock at the specified crew call. Overtime at a rate of time and a half begins after ten hours. If your shoot takes the crew to a distant location, travel time can be expected. A distant location is any location outside a circle with a 30 mile radius drawn around the city where Trade and Tryon Streets are the center. But all of these are just guidelines; certainly verify with your crew their specific policies.
Chamber of Commerce / Visitor’s Bureau
If you have additional questions about Charlotte, like lodging, transportation, or locations, you can always contact the city’s Chamber or the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
330 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28232
On the web at: www.charlottechamber.com
Charlotte Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
500 South College Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
On the web at: www.charlottecvb.org
For more information on shooting in Charlotte, you may also consider the North Carolina Film Office.
North Carolina Film Office
301 North Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
On the web at: www.ncfilm.com
Booking the Right Crew
But even with the perfect location, the best laid plans, and great weather, so much depends on the right crew. Booking the right crew means finding a crew that not only gets the job done, but does whatever it takes to insure you have the best shoot. Are you conducting a series of interviews that require dramatic lighting? Are you going to be “Run and Gun” around the city or maybe the Speedway? Is your shoot going to require any specific equipment? Finding a crew that can handle every one of your needs is just as important as lining up all of the interviews and creating your shot list.
For more information on booking your camera crew see: “Everything you ever wanted to know about booking a video crew.”
This article was written by Skip Clark, Director of Photography in Charlotte, NC, for Go To Team. Go To Team is a leading provider of video production resources throughout the southeast including video camera crews. See their home page for more information.
Copying this information to other sites is allowed only in its entirety, with credit and web link to Go To Team.