If an ABC Studios TV pilot “The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez” gets picked up for airing, folks around Myrtle Beach may recognize some familiar faces and places on the show.
The pilot, centered around a female “rags to riches” Cuban immigrant entrepreneur living in Miami and pursuing the American Dream, is filming at spots around Myrtle Beach this week.
Crews have hired lots of locals as “extras” and transformed some Myrtle Beach locations to give the appearance and feel of Miami.
The production company began shooting scenes primarily this week in several locations including inside Angelo’s Steak and Pasta off Kings Highway and across the road at the abandoned J. Edwards restaurant site.
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Angelo Antonucci confirmed that his restaurant was “bought out” by the production company Sunday and Monday with additional filming to be done early next week. But a set constructed and visible from the highway across from Angelo’s at the former J. Edwards took on a Mediterranean look similar to a place you might find in Miami rather than Myrtle Beach.
Crews filmed inside Angelo’s and outside the long closed J. Edwards Tuesday through Thursday. In addition, the Myrtle Beach Police Department provided assistance in the area of Poinsett Drive and HB Springs Park last week for the film crew, Lt. Joey Crosby said.
This type of project positively impacts a wide array of businesses. Of course, hotels, restaurants and one or more homeowners benefit directly. But a production like this is a major effort that enlists the support of many people and businesses. Because this is a pilot for a major network, it reaches a scope and level of production we don’t normally see in our area.
Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said the city is fortunate to be host to this “unique opportunity.”
Dean said the chamber has provided various types of support for the project, but credits the S.C. Film Commission, a key agency within the S.C. Parks Recreation and Tourism (PRT) department, for landing the project in South Carolina despite “some very strong competition from other states.”
“Occasionally, local residents or businesses might get a little envious of other communities in our state that have hosted movie or film productions. This project could have landed many other places, both inside and outside of South Carolina,” Dean said. “Credit PRT and the state film office for including our community and giving us an opportunity to shine.”
Dean said the filming of the TV pilot in spring comes at a time when Myrtle Beach has excess capacity and needs additional business.
“This type of project positively impacts a wide array of businesses,” he said. “Of course, hotels, restaurants and one or more homeowners benefit directly. But a production like this is a major effort that enlists the support of many people and businesses. Because this is a pilot for a major network, it reaches a scope and level of production we don’t normally see in our area.”
The chamber assisted with scouting up to 50 locations for the project, including vacant land, warehouses, apartments and houses, said Susan Phillips, the chamber’s marketing director.
“Filming was done,” she said, “at two individual homes as well as a site set up as an apartment.”
The chamber also helped locate separate housing for the crew and talent near the north side of town, she said.
Janet Daily, vice president of communications for Disney/ABC Television Group, said company policy does not allow for access to a pilot production or for officials to comment on the set.
Actors Eric Close (“American Sniper”) and Gina Torres (star of USA’s “Suits”) have leading roles in the show, according to Deadline Hollywood, a website devoted to entertainment news. The show was written and executive produced by Charise Castro Smith with executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters of the TV show “Agent Carter,” according to the website. It’s unclear if any of the actors are filming in Myrtle Beach.
The state’s ability to provide incentives has drawn projects like the TV pilot to South Carolina, allowing the state to win over a strong competitor, said Duane Parrish, the PRT director. Although he said a nondisclosure agreement prevented him from revealing specifics about this project, he noted that a production company could spend from $4 million to $10 million just on one pilot. If the pilot is picked up as a 13-part series, he said that expenditure could reach $25 million to $30 million for the 12 additional episodes.
“That’s a big if but it is something you want to see,” Parrish said. He said most often the show will return to the area where the pilot was filmed just as the show “Army Wives” did in Charleston. That show ran for seven seasons out of a Charleston warehouse, he said, with several of the show’s stars moving to the area to be near their work.
Parrish said bringing the pilot production to Myrtle Beach “put heads in beds at a time that is not the busiest time of year. They come in and spend a lot of money on hotel rooms, food, lighting, construction materials, landscaping, vehicles and extras. It is big, particularly if the series is picked up. It is a boon for our area.”
PRT will follow this pilot through testing and if it looks like it will be picked up for further production, money will be set aside out of the state film commission’s $16 million budget so the incentives will be there when needed, Parrish said. Television and film production tax incentives include 25 percent on all in-state wages, 20 percent on all out-of-state wages and 30 percent on supplies.
Receiving some of those wages are the extras that Parrish referred to—local residents hired to play small roles in the production. A casting call sent from the ABC Studios for paid extras specifically sought performers with Latino backgrounds 18 years old or older.
The film commission reimburses a percent of money spent on supplies and wages, so officials won't know until production is finished how much in incentives the TV show will get.
I had never witnessed how you produce a show. When you actually see it in your face, it is an amazing process. I was overwhelmed with as much time, coordination, preparation and equipment it takes to shoot a scene. I run a restaurant with the insanity rate I operate at and it is comparable.
Angelo Antonucci of Angelo’s Steak and Pasta in Myrtle Beach where an ABC TV pilot has been filming
Antonucci said his restaurant was scouted to see if the atmosphere fit and if there was space for set up and take down. He said scenes were shot in two dining rooms and the kitchen with Monday’s shoot scheduled in the bar.
Amazed at the production, Antonucci said he found watching the process “very interesting.”
“I had never witnessed how you produce a show,” he said. “When you actually see it in your face, it is an amazing process. I was overwhelmed with as much time, coordination, preparation and equipment it takes to shoot a scene. I run a restaurant with the insanity rate I operate at and it is comparable.”
Angela Nicholas can be reached at email@example.com.