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Shot in Salisbury, ‘Goodbye, Butterfly’ debuts on digital platforms

SALISBURY — As soon as he stepped foot in Salisbury, Tyler Wayne knew he’d found the perfect spot.

Wayne, who has worked in the independent film industry for years, was scouting locations with his team for the first movie he has ever directed. Called “Goodbye, Butterfly,” the psychological thriller follows a father who is on a rampaging path for justice after his 5-year old daughter was mysteriously murdered.

To frame the suspenseful film, Wayne wanted to find somewhere that looked and felt like “small-town America.” He found that in Rowan County.

“The minute I stepped into town I was like ‘Yeah, this is the place,” Wayne said. “Everybody there was so helpful and worked with us. It was pretty much a dream scenario.”

Wayne’s directorial debut was released on digital platforms Friday. Plenty of the movie’s background will look familiar to people in Salisbury, since the majority of the independent thriller was shot in and around downtown over a 17-day period.

The Salisbury Police Department and Morlan Park show up in the film, as do  several private homes and apartments. Some of the downtown’s most prominent streets, buildings and businesses, like Mean Mug, Sweet Meadow Cafe and Critters, can also be seen. Several Salisbury Police Department officers even acted as extras and the SPD received a shoutout in the movie.

“Goodbye, Butterfly,” was the second of two movies shot in Salisbury 2019, with the first being “The 24th,” which was released in August. The link between the two movies, and the reason why they were both filmed in Salisbury, is Keema Mingo. 

Mingo was the casting director for “The 24th” and was the co-producer and casting director of “Goodbye, Butterfly.” She was responsible for not only casting the movie’s actors and actresses, but also casting Salisbury as the setting.

Mingo, who is from Charlotte, told Wayne to scout Salisbury as a potential site after her experience during the shooting of “The 24th.”

“(Salisbury) was so open, so welcoming, between the restaurants and the citizens, places that we stayed and ate at or went to when we did ‘The 24th,’ I was like, let me bring it back and see if we can do the same this time around,” Mingo said. “Now I’m having more of a role as a producer and it was exactly the same. You all rolled out the red carpet for us.”

The city’s proximity to Charlotte, Mingo said, was also a plus.

Creating a place where producers and directors want to film is exactly what the city of Salisbury has strived to do in recent years. 

Several years ago, city and county officials collaborated with downtown stakeholders in an effort to better market Salisbury as a filming destination. To make its availability known, the city relied on the Charlotte Regional Film Commission, which lists potential sites for prospective directors.

“Folks in the community decided that Salisbury would be a great location for filming because of our commitment to historic preservation,” said Linda McElroy, communications director for the city of Salisbury. “Particularly for historic movies that are really looking for locations where they don’t have to put a lot of effort into restoring homes.”

Salisbury’s historic charm was perfect for “The 24th,” which told the story of a riot in 1917 Houston that involved members of the Army’s all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment. Although “Goodbye, Butterfly” didn’t necessarily need a historic setting, the film’s producers enjoyed the hospitality the residents of Salisbury showed.

The film’s crew was in town for about two months total for production and even stayed in an apartment owned by a Salisbury couple.

“We wanted to make sure that not only we were shooting in Salisbury, but that the crew was staying in Salisbury to keep the money within the city,” Mingo said.

Although Salisbury and Rowan County didn’t receive any direct compensation for allowing “The 24th” and “Goodbye, Butterfly” to shoot in its buildings and streets, the movies did make a positive economic impact because crew members spent money at restaurants and businesses. Mingo said that along with various locals who helped make their experience more than comfortable, she appreciated the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s help in scouting possible locations.

With two films shot in Salisbury in one year, the door was opened for some locals to gain film industry experience, including students from Livingstone and Catawba College.

“It gave our residents the opportunity to be involved with the film,” McElroy said. “They hired local talent and local folks to work on the movies. It’s always a great opportunity when our residents can be involved, but also to show Hollywood that Salisbury is very accommodating.”

McElroy said Salisbury is open for shooting and the city will continue to work with the Charlotte Regional Film Commission to market the area as a viable option for directors. 

“Goodbye, Butterfly,” she said, hopefully won’t be the last time Salisbury makes it onto the digital screen.

Wayne said Salisbury will always be special to him, since it’s where he directed his first movie.

“Goodbye, Butterfly” is available on iTunes, Amazon and other digital streaming platforms.

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