Alabama lands role in ‘Selma’ after record year for production activity

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Coming off a record year for movie and television production activity, Alabama is preparing for its role in the filming of “Selma,” a major motion picture focusing on Dr. Martin Luther King’s epic struggle to secure voting rights.

The Alabama Film Office announced today that portions of the movie project, which is backed by production companies affiliated with Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and others, will be filmed in Selma and Montgomery this summer. Filming also will take place in Georgia.

Paramount Pictures and Pathe this week announced that principal photography has commenced on “Selma,” which is being directed by Ava DuVernay. According to the current production schedule, the Alabama Film Office said four days of shooting in June will take place in Selma, with one day set for Montgomery. The Selma filming will include scenes shot on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where marchers clashed with troopers. The Montgomery filming is expected to be centered on Dexter Avenue, where King also led marchers.

“The fact that this major movie is being partly filmed in Alabama indicates that the profile of the state continues to rise in the motion picture industry,” said Kathy Faulk, manager of the Alabama Film Office. “We saw more movie and television activity in 2013 than ever before, and with “Selma” and other projects, we are positioned for another banner year.”

“Selma” is being produced by industry heavyweights. Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment (“World War Z,” “12 Years A Slave”), Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films (“Beloved”) and Christian Colson’s Cloud Eight Films (“Slumdog Millionaire”) are involved in the project, according to Paramount and Pathe.

The movie depicts Dr. King’s celebrated Selma-to-Montgomery march as part of his historic voting rights struggle, which climaxed with the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. David Oyelowo stars as Dr. King, while Carmen Ejogo portrays Coretta Scott King.

“This story will resonate deeply with not only those brave men and women who fought for voting rights along Dr. King, but also the countless millions of people who continue to fight against discrimination in voting today,” Paramount CEO Brad Grey said.


Film and television production activity has been on a steady rise in the Alabama since the Alabama Entertainment Incentives Act was passed in 2009. Last year, production companies spent $57 million in the state, according to the Alabama Film Office. That’s up $33.5 million in 2012 and $22 million in 2011.

'Moms' Night Out,' which premiered in May 2014, was shot in Birmingham in 2013.
‘Moms’ Night Out,’ which premiered in May 2014, was shot in Birmingham last year.

During 2013, a total of 75 projects were filmed in Alabama. One of them, “Moms’ Night Out,” a comedy shot by Jon and Andrew Erwin in Birmingham, debuted in early May. Two action flicks shot in Mobile — “Tokarev,” starring Nicholas Cage, and “The Prince,” starring Bruce Willis and John Cusak  — are expected to premiere later this year.

Faulk said the making of “Tokarev” illustrates the financial impact of motion picture projects.

“During the filming of ‘Tokarev,’ which was shot entirely in Mobile, more than 800 hotel room stays were recorded, and hundreds of people were hired as part of the local crew,” she said. “Local merchants, restaurants, rentals companies and other businesses all saw a significant increase in sales due to the large production crew working in the area.”

The Alabama Entertainment Incentives Act set aside $15 million in fiscal 2013 as rebates for qualified productions, and that figure will rise to $20 million in fiscal 2015. That will make Alabama even more competitive for film and television projects, said Greg Canfield, the secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, which oversees the Alabama Film Office.

“The productions filmed in the state in 2013 provided well over 4,000 jobs in the state and contributed a positive economic impact,” Canfield said. “As we gain momentum, increased production activity in Alabama will generate more jobs, stimulate additional tourism and give us an image boost.”


Other productions that filmed in Alabama during 2013 included:

  • Sweet Home Alabama:” CMT filmed the fourth season of the series primarily in the Fairhope and Mobile area.
  •  “Jersey Belle:” The TV series for the Bravo network focuses on a New Jersey woman who moves to Alabama; it was filmed in Birmingham and Mountain Brook.
  • “Somnia:” The feature film about an orphan whose nightmares come to life was filmed in Fairhope and Mobile.
  • “Perfect Blend:” Shot in Birmingham and Fairhope, this family film focuses on a small-town coffee shop owner who has to decide between finding love or closing her struggling business.
  • “A Convergence:” Mobile-based production company MudBrick Media shot this film in its hometown.
  • “Oculus:” In this film shot in Mobile and Fairhope, a woman attempts to exonerate her brother by proving the murder pinned on him was actually committed by a supernatural force.


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