After premiering at The Earle Theater in December 2016, with additional big-screen showings in Elkin-Jonesville, Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill, “The Real Mayberry,” is making an appearance on the small screen.
Th documentary by Mount Airy native Bill Hayes was shown by PBS station UNC-TV earlier this week, and will be shown again on Sunday at 10 a.m. As part of PBS’s pledge drive, the showing was accompanied by live interviews with the filmmaker and other Mount Airy people who spoke about the town and offered pledge bonuses from their respective businesses and organizations.
Gene Rees offered merchandise from F. Rees; Jessica Icenhour Roberts, Mount Airy director of tourism, offered items at various levels ranging from a night at a hotel to a complete tourism package; Travis Smith and Savannah Fender, of Nester Hosiery, offered “Farm to Feet” merchandise; and Ben and Ellie Webb of Old North State Winery and Fish Hippie offered a chef’s table dinner at the winery.
“It was a lotta love for Mount Airy,” said Erin Cuevas, producer of “The Real Mayberry.” Sunday’s re-run will also include the interviews, though Cuevas notes they will, of course, not be live.
“It’s getting a great response,” Hayes said of his first documentary. “It’s the same response from everybody. You don’t have to be connected with Mount Airy. It’s for fans of rural America.”
Hayes characterizes his film as being serious without being too heavy-handed. He modeled it after “The Andy Griffith Show” which had a serious core at the heart of its comedy.
Hayes said he did not want his film to go too soft or too hard on Mount Airy. “There are challenges, and there are potential solutions,” and he said stories generally focus on one or the other. No one looks at both sides.
“We’re trying to do that.”
“I made a film. I told a story. It took five years to do it,” said Hayes. He has since completed another documentary and the film “The Real Mayberry” has spawned a website TheRealMayberry.com which is not only about the film, but expands its story to the rest of rural America, with submissions of short stories on the subject. “Now, we’re curating other people’s stories,” said Hayes. “And people are doing some amazing things.”
“The Real Mayberry” DVDs are available to purchase on Amazon, and it can be streamed on iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and Amazon.
As far as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, “I do think it will eventually be there,” said Cuevas. “We’re beginning to have those discussions.”
“I spent $350,000 on this movie,” said Hayes. “I’m trying to make some of my money back before the big streaming services let everyone watch it for free.
Hayes thinks the 10 million potential sets of eyeballs that make up UNC-TV’s potential audience can help with that.
“The Real Mayberry” will air on Sunday, Dec. 3, at 10 a.m. on UNC-TV, including taped interviews of Mount Airy business people and officials.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.