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City pulls student film's permit after questions about nudity

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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.

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