WILMINGTON, N.C. — The last time Wilmington police officer Mark Anderson saw a movie in a theater, he watched John Travolta in “Wild Hogs” in 2007. Before that, he saw Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan.”
These days, Anderson is becoming a big movie fan without buying popcorn and huge sodas. The StarNews of Wilmington reports that filmmaking in the Cape Fear region puts dozens of law enforcement officers and fire crews to work directing traffic, providing security and ensuring residents' safety during stunts.
“I'm not falling over myself trying to meet stars. For the most part, I don't have a ton of interaction with the stars. That's not why I do it,” said Anderson, a 51-year-old retired U.S. Marine. “I make my mom's and my house payments and these contracts help pay for that.”
Law enforcement officials said the work is paid for by filmmakers, and it's expected to increase now that the feature films “We're the Millers” and “Iron Man 3,” and new NBC-TV series “Revolution” continue to film in the area.
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said the extra work allows his department to increase its footprint in the community without costing taxpayers.
“Any of the contracts they work, whether it's security for a business or traffic control for an event, are high visibility. And the officers are still having to abide by all of our rules and regulations.” Evangelous said.
Although Anderson and other local police officers volunteer for a variety of lucrative off-duty assignments, including security work with retailers such as Walmart, the film and TV production contracts are his favorite.
“Movies are the best contracts to work,” Anderson said. “You're part of the team, and these guys make you feel at home.”