Polk County Film Initiative (PCFI) opens in Tryon

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, May 11, 2014

Beau Menetre, co-founder of PCFI, at work in the new production office.

Beau Menetre, co-founder of PCFI, at work in the new production office.

by Kirk Gollwitzer
Even before the Polk County Film Initiative (PCFI) signed the lease of its new production office, the organization was fast at work, sometime feverishly racing to satisfy film location inquiries sent in from movie studios all around the country. “Time is of the essence when these production opportunities arrive in our office via Amanda Baranski of the Western Carolina Film Commission. It’s a race against the clock,” said Lavin Cuddihee, Principle and co-founder of the Tryon-based economic development group.
PCFI is now a proud member of the downtown Tryon business community, signing a lease with the town and taking up residence at 285 N. Trade St. (next to City Hall). Beau Menetre refers to the space as the production office because already the artistic space has been transformed into a video studio where interviews with actors and film producers for the upcoming full-length comedy feature “Cinema Purgatorio” have already taken place.
One week earlier Cuddihee was directing and starring in a 36-second actor’s promo on the train tracks next to the depot for the very same film, in which Cuddihee stars in as the character “Nick” Teasle, a comical and out of hand Chuck Norris want-to-be, seasoned with the off-personality traits of Bill Murray. Cuddihee said that he enjoys his serious role in the location-scouting, logistics and economic side of the film industry. “Acting and directing has been my life for many years, but now that we are trying to bring the movie industry to Polk County it’s become very personal to me,” said Cuddihee.
PCFI, initially was the brainchild of Beau Menetre, a thirty-something entrepreneur with a career background in the live entertainment staging industry.  Menetre knows what’s required to move into Las Vegas in the middle of the night and set up a million-dollar backdrop complete with all of the moving parts of lights, camera action.
Menetre, like Cuddihee knew that Tryon was going to be his home the moment he ventured in during exploration visit. “I was looking for a great place to raise my family and that I have found here in Tryon,” said Menetre.  Cuddihee, on the other hand, was struck by the street’s mannerisms and local color of the town’s people.  “The moment I saw who is now town council member Bill Ingham brewing coffee on the sidewalk outside of his coffee shop, during a rare city-wide power failure, I knew that I had just found home.  I called my wife Vivian in California and told her that we simply must move to Tryon,” said Cuddihee.
Menetre and Cuddihee both admit that what they and others are trying to accomplish is monumental but they say that they plan to grow the organization organically. Over the last few months Menetre and his team has covered a lot of ground, meeting with city and county officials successfully seeking resolutions of approval.  “We are all astounded by the level of excitement we are finding by our local leaders.  Everyone is wishing us the best of luck and all seem eager to lend a hand as we venture towards our early milestones.
Cuddihee and Menetre are breasting their cards with regard to what exactly those milestones might actually be, but they say that what lies ahead will positively impact the local area.  One event closely related to PCFI will be the red-carpet premier of CINEMA PURGATORIO which is set to screen at the Tryon Theatre June 2 and 3. “We are also planning on dove-tailing our grand opening sometime around that special event,” said Cuddihee, who refers to his new office as the station because of the fact that generations ago the building once served as the Tryon Fire Department.
Menetre sees the location as not only a place to hold meetings with crew-members, scouts and actors but said a plan is in place to install the framework of a future video production studio complete with green-screen capability.
For more information on the Polk County Film Initiative call 828-817-5302 or visit them at: facebook.com/groups/pcfi.nc/.

– article submitted
by Kirk Gollwitzer

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