MONROE — Downtown Monroe has been a popular filming location the past few weeks. A web series called “Funny for the Life of Me” was shot in downtown last week, and this week a $12 million, five-season, 65-episode television show called “Queue” is being filmed. Both productions used the streets of Monroe as well as Franklin Court Grille for sets.
“Queue” is being produced b local film company KP Films. It’s described as a science fiction story with dark comedy.
“The story line — to make it short and sweet — is about a young woman (Julia) who is part-time dead,” writer and executive producer Jessica Wilson said. “She has to spend part of her time here being alive and part of her time in the beyond in the afterlife. It’s not up to her. She has a nemesis and her nemesis decides whenever she is dead and whenever she is alive.”
The pilot episode is currently being filmed in downtown Monroe. The episode will be pitched to networks to be picked up.
Wilson said the inspiration behind the script came from her own life. She described death as a frequent visitor in her life.
She is originally from formally communist East Germany and was raised in a non-religious family.
“I have a different view on death. I was raised without religion which gave the luxury of learning about all religions. I wanted to create something that is entertaining, but also educates people. The beyond can be anything you like,” Wilson said.
The story intends to remind people that they only have one life to live and therefore, should make the most of it — living it to the fullest without concern for the age, looks or opinions of other people.
Patti Price owns of KP Films and is an executive producer of “Queue.”
She said incentives the North Carolina film industry are able to offer make the state attractive to filmmakers. It’s a 25% film incentive and the 181 — which means if you’re in the 35% tax bracket, with your investment in film, you’re risking about 20 cents on the dollar, Price explained. “You can’t find an investment to beat that,” she said.
“In August 2014, the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant was established by Senate Bill 744. Originally a $10M allocation, the grant provides the funding for the rebate program (up to 25% of the production’s direct in-state spend) the state offers to productions...Most recently, in June 2018 as part of Senate Bill 99 from Session Law 2018-5, the minimum spend requirement for a feature-length film dropped to $3 million while a sub-category within features was created for made-for-television movies, whose minimum spend was established at $1 million. The legislation also increased the television series per project cap to $12 million per season (their minimum spend remains at $1 million/episode) and the cap also increase for features, including made-for-television movies, to $7 million,” according to FilmNC.com
Patti said “Queue” brings a topic to the forefont that a lot of people don’t like to discuss: death. She says the show is about perceptions of life and death.
“Death is not really a topic that anyone wants to talk about so we’re hoping to bring that more into discussion ... a look at possibilities of what could happen while you’re being entertained,” Price said.
Director Paul Duncan explained what it’s been like filming during COVID. He said the biggest challenges are masks and social distancing. Filming inside has also become more of a challenge.
The only time masks are removed is to either eat, drink or act.
“Really what you want to do is really try to serve the story as much as possible. If there’s a scene where you have two options between actors kissing, but still conveying the same emotion by not kissing then you would go with the less dangerous option, the more safe option,” Duncan said.
Jay Cohen, actor and associate producer of “Queue” chose to act in the show because he prefers unique roles. He said he tends to gravitate toward dark comedy. His character watches over Julia and is her best friend as well as a love interest of the main character’s mother. Cohen described his character as a “quirky, English musician.”
Hannah Lori, who plays Julia, saw a casting call for “Queue” on Facebook. As she learned more about the project, she said it would be a show she would enjoy watching.
Lori said auditioning in the southeast usually required a videotaped audition, but callbacks have been a challenge since COVID, because they may be done online which can prevent an emotional connection between actors in addition to voice delays.