NC film studio working on state-focused COVID documentary

N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH — A film studio located in southern Wake County is working on finishing a documentary that looks at the 2020 pandemic and the state’s COVID response. 

Located in Fuquay-Varina, production company Amazing Studios is working on the documentary entitled “Stay at Home.” The film is described in part as documenting the pandemic through “following individuals as they encounter the immediate effects of North Carolina’s stay-at-home order.” 

“In the months after, with division rising all over the country, our biggest goal was to capture history from all sides, many perspectives, and offer a balanced and accurate look at how events and decisions were affecting a wide range of people,” the press package information for the film says. 

“This started right as the stay-at-home [order] in March was gearing up,” Amazing Studios founder and President Mike Cole told North State Journal. “We were headed into our 25th year… it was off to a roaring start… and then, all of the sudden, like everyone else, things were coming to a screeching halt.” 

Cole said they decided to “do what they do best” and they began capturing how people were adapting to the pandemic situation.  

The film, which is a self-funded project, follows five people from different walks of life as they try to navigate the “uncertain and changing environment” that forces them to adapt their lives. 

The five individuals highlighted throughout the film are Mark, a brewery owner; DJ, a professional baseball player; Tim, a full-time musician; Ashley, a gym owner and coach; and Travis, a church pastor. 

Secondary subjects who were interviewed include Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin and outgoing N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen. On Nov. 22, Cohen tweeted about sitting down with Amazing Studios to reflect on the state’s COVID response. 

Cole also said Amazing Studios has talked to an economics professor and a chief medical officer from a local area hospital about their insights looking back at what has unfolded during the pandemic. He said they also talked to officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). 

“We had the fortune of talking with RDU Airport because we had been working with them at the peak of everything, when their business was booming and then all of the sudden this happened,” said Cole. He added they were all “a bit taken aback” when they stood in Terminal Two on a weekday at noon and the place “was a ghost town.” 

Cole’s outfit also captured the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted during 2020 and the ReOpen N.C. rallies. 

“All in all, the whole point of this was to try to see how people we were following — those five main stories — of how they were going to respond and how they adjust,” Cole said. “We were lucky to have such a wide variety of participants willing to share from their perspective what they were seeing and dealing with at that point. 

Cole said there have been internal conversations about perhaps separately taking a look at the impact of the pandemic on K-12 students, parents and educators.  

One area Cole said was surprising was the impact on gyms from the pandemic and related policies put into place during 2020. An example Cole gave where Amazing Studios had captured the emotional meeting between gym owners and then-Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. 

North State Journal also covered that meeting, where over a dozen gym and fitness-club owners expressed their frustrations with Gov. Roy Cooper keeping them shuttered during Phase 2 of his stay-at-home order. One gym owner told Forest they were on the verge of losing everything and were having to sell personal possessions to stay afloat. 

“It’s a case study, if you will, of this period of time,” said Cole. “It’s really at the heart of what we’re after. I don’t think our desire is to push a side or a perspective, it’s just to show what people were having to deal with and what they were doing.” 

“Hopefully, if anything, in watching it, there are some things we learn from it,” Cole said. “We can look at it and go, ‘Man, if we’re ever in this situation again, hey, we do this, or we don’t do this, or something else in between’.” 

While there is no release date yet, Cole said that they are in the process of doing final interviews with their subjects.

About A.P. Dillon 753 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_