Carolina Pinnacle Studios, President and CEOBurlington , NC
Published 12 July 2005
Faiger M. Blackwell, Chairman
Mr. Blackwell is a native of North Carolina. He attended Winston-Salem University where he earned a B.S. in Public Administration. He is licensed as a Funeral Director, Administrator of Assisted Living Facilities, and Real Estate Agent. Currently, Mr. Blackwell is the President and CEO of Carolina Pinnacle Studios and Universal Health Care Services, Inc. He is a member of the Piedmont Community College Film Commission and Piedmont Triad Film Commission Board of Directors. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the YMCA, the North Carolina Long Term Care Association, and the North Carolina Medical Care Commission. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Elon College. Active in politics, Mr. Blackwell was a member of the Caswell County Commissioners and the first black Caswell County School Board member. He is the 1997 Sertoma Man of the Year and recipient of the 1995 Chamber of Commerce Emerging Entrepreneurship Award.
But late Thursday, owner Faiger Blackwell secured more than $1 million from a private investor to pay off his debts and stop the sale. "We are starting with a clean slate," Blackwell said Friday, describing himself as "exuberant and blessed." He wouldn't identify the investor. But he did give some credit to a higher power, covering signs advertising the auction with his own that read: "Thanks, God did it!" His property holds an antebellum mansion, four sound studios, offices and a chalet on Lake Adelaide that can be rented for film production. It represents one of the few African American-owned film studios in the country. It's also the region's only available stage space specifically built for film production. Iron Horse Auction Co. of Rockingham had been ordered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to sell it as part of a Chapter 11 reorganization. But when Blackwell paid off $850,000 in property debt and other fees by the Friday morning deadline, the auction company had to turn back potential bidders.
Blackwell said he hopes that he can benefit from the state's new boom in film production and from state incentives that refund 15 percent of most production costs. He said he has several projects scheduled. The author Zane, for example, plans to shoot a feature film based on her best-seller, "Addicted," at Carolina Pinnacle. "Hopefully, the stars and the spotlight will begin to shine upon Pinnacle," Blackwell said. The studios faced financial troubles well before Blackwell bought them in 1998. Zale Magder, one of Canada's major independent producers, opened them in 1996. Canada, however, began offering incentives that lured film business away from North Carolina. The studio filed for bankruptcy in 1997. Magder shareholders took control, reorganized, then also went bankrupt.
Blackwell, too, has found it difficult to attract business. Rebecca Clark, director of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission, promotes the studios to production companies. The obstacle, she said, is Pinnacle's distance from cities. It's a 40- to-50-minute drive from Greensboro and 90 minutes from Winston-Salem. But Clark said she talks up the location's privacy and proximity to Piedmont Community College's trained film students. With Blackwell having another chance to make it work, Clark said, "I am going to remain optimistic that there will be more opportunities for him and us to get business there." Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 373-5204 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Faiger M. Blackwell, Chairman
Carolina Pinnacle Studios, President and CEO