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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington has revoked a film permit from a group of UNCW students, saying the shoot would be too racy for the city streets. Now the students are left wondering how the city decides how far is too far.

“What we would have been shooting would have been no worse than, say, a Hooters billboard or a Pure Gold billboard sign,” film student John Lopez. “In fact, it would have been done more tastefully. It just so happens we weren’t selling cheeseburgers or strippers.”

Lopez and a group of classmates had a permit to film a scene for their final project downtown, but just a day later, after a story on the production ran in the StarNews, the city called “Cut!”

“We just can’t have a simulated sex or full nudity in a public street right in front of MLK Parkway,” Wilmington city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said.

But Lopez says he told the film office there was no plan for nudity in the scene.

“We are all artists,” he said. “We’re not making pornography or anything.”

The students’ professor says he can understand the city’s position.

“I think the people who are opposed to it, who don’t want to see that or don’t want their kids to see that, have every right,” UNCW film professor Andre Silva said.

But for the students, it’s an issue of freedom of expression. In the meantime, they have found a private place to shoot the scene, and will be able to finish their project in time.

We asked Talbert how the student shoot differed from the sex-filled “Piranha 3-DD,” which shot in Wilmington last year, including at Jungle Rapids. She said that movie was shot on a closed set, and steps were taken to block off any views by the public.

Comment on this Story

  • ChefnSurf

    Mr. John Lopez seems to be just a little full of himself at the moment. “It would have been done more tastefully” (than something put out by a professional add agency) he says. “We are all artists” he says.

    Hey John, time for a reality check. You’re not Martin Scorcese, you’re just a student in a film class at UNCW. It’ not an issue of freedom of expression. It’s simply an issue of not filming a sex scene (simulated or not) next to a public roadway. Even your professor says that.

    Who knows, maybe someday you will be considered an artist. Right now, without a body of verifiably artistic work to substantiate that, your not.

    Time to grow up a bit and get over yourself.

  • J

    Since when are professional ad agencies known for their taste?

    You don’t need to be Scorsese to be considered a film maker. Lopez does have a body of work that you are just unfamiliar with. Who are you to say who is and is not an artist? Seems like someone is a little full of themselves…

  • Michael McKean

    As a former film student at UNCW, I have dealt with the City of Wilmington in obtaining film permits. I always found them to be overly fair and very accomadating. In fact they provided my crew with parking passes for an entire weekend.
    However as a city that promotes UNCW and film making the city could have given other options to John instead of pulling his permit. There could have been suggestions made on how to properly block off the area to avoid potential offensive acting to offend viewers.
    I have to add, that this publicity has to be great for John and I hope it does nothing but bolster his future.

  • Guester

    How can anyone question this decision? I don’t care if it’s “simulated” nudity or “similated” sex, if I’m driving down MLK with my kids, what am I supposed to say? Look at the art, honey? And what about the sicko driving down the road that wants a closer look and causes a major accident? I suppose that would be art too? Gimme a break. The city has better things to do than to offer “options” to a wannabee artist.

  • J

    Im confused, have your kids never seen two adults in a bed together? I feel like the lights and cameras would cause more questions then the mild content in front of them.

    Would the car accident be considered art? Does that even make sense to you? gimme a break.


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