Many people know that Knoxville has been a large television production hub for many years with great local production companies like Jupiter Entertainment, Rivr Media, Red Arrow Studios and others producing hours of content every year for networks like Oxygen, ID Channel, HGTV, and many more. Discovery also calls Knoxville home for its national headquarters. This keeps our talented local crew busy on a variety of true crime, lifestyle, cooking, and other types of shows year around.
In addition to these local production companies, the VK Film Office recruits great films and strives to make Knoxville a film hub. We love showing off our locations, crew, and talent to the film industry. The Film Office recruits and provides assistance with everything a production needs, including lodging, crew, locations, permits, city services and incentives.
What people may not know is that Knoxville has made leaps and bounds as a feature film hub in the last few years, averaging three films a year since 2016 and landing on Moviemaker Magazine’s BEST PLACES TO LIVE AND WORK AS A MOVIEMAKER in both 2019 and 2020. These films utilized several familiar locations in and around Knoxville while filming. Check out the films and their locations below. The next time you visit one of these spots, you may be standing in the footsteps of Burt Reynolds!
THE LAST MOVIESTAR – starring Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, Ariel Winter
In 2016, there were several sightings of iconic actors, Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase, on the streets of Knoxville. Along with Modern Family actor, Ariel Winter, they were here to film Whitener Entertainment Group’s feature film, The Last Movie Star. This beautiful film was one of Reynold’s last as he unfortunately passed away in 2018. The movie tells the story of an aging movie star that has been invited to a film festival celebrating his work. The beautiful Tennessee Theatre looks amazing on screen, doubling as The Knoxville Grand Hotel in the movie. Scenes were shot in the lobby with Reynolds and Winter. Knoxvillians also showed up in the hundreds on a warm summer day on Market Square, where, in front of the Oliver Royale, they were able to watch Burt film scenes with Chevy Chase. Filming also took place inside the restaurant. Scenes for the fictional film festival took place at The Long Branch Saloon on Cumberland Avenue, which is now The Liter Board. A beautiful scene where Reynold’s character takes a trip down memory lane is filmed at Neyland Stadium. Several other locations in and around the city were used, including McGhee Tyson Airport and Historic North Knoxville neighborhoods. The Last Movie Star premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival and can currently be seen on Showtime. Check out the trailer and see how many locations you can recognize!
Road Less Traveled Movie Poster
Lauren Alaina at The Original Freezo
ROAD LESS TRAVELED – starring Lauren Alaina
Country music fans know the name Lauren Alaina very well as she his risen to stardom since her runner up finish on American Idol. What they may not know is in 2016 she starred in a movie right here in Knoxville. The movie Road Less Traveled tells the story of country music singer who comes back home to Tennessee a week before she's set to get married. But when she runs into her high school sweetheart, Ray, sparks begin to fly. Alaina’s hit song “Road Less Traveled” was featured in the movie as well as a few iconic Knoxville stops including The Original Freezo, the popular ice cream stand on N. Central Street. In the movie, Alaina and two of her co-stars are seen buying ice cream at the location when they run in to her ex-boyfriend. The Smoky Railway Museum behind Southern Depot in the Old City was portrayed as a working train station in the film as the main characters leave L.A. and arrive at Alaina’s character’s hometown. Emory Place was also used as a town square and home to the police station in the film and Sapphire on Gay Street doubled as an elegant L.A. restaurant. Alaina also sings a duet with her movie ex, played by Donny Boaz at the Pilot Light in the Old City. Road Less Traveled originally aired on CMT and can now be found on Amazon Prime. Check out the trailer!
Hush Little Baby Movie Poster
Jake Manley on set
HUSH LITTLE BABY – starring Erin Cahill, Jake Manley, and Brady Smith
Hollywood returned to Knoxville one more time in 2016 with the film, Hush Little Baby. The MarVista Entertainment production tells the story of Lauren Bell a woman trying to keep her relationship with her husband intact and she desperately needs some help in watching her newborn, Riley. Thinking she's found the perfect solution, she hires her neighbor, Owen, to be their nanny. He begins spying on Lauren and drives a wedge between Lauren and James' already fragile marriage. The thriller was the second film from MarVista that year in Knoxville. Production utilized residential homes in the Knoxville area and the Knoxville Convention Center doubled as Lauren’s husband’s workplace in the film. Scenes were also shot at the bar and the Mahogany’s Restaurant in the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
“Everybody in Knoxville is so sweet that I could put them in my pocket,” said Cahill. “The little downtown area, I miss it.”
“We hung out in Knoxville together every night and every day,” said Wallick. “We were on Gay Street every night. Preservation Pub. That was the place. We were there every other night.”
Hush Little Baby premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network and can currently be seen on most streaming services including Amazon Prime. Check out the trailer!
Light from Light Movie Poster
Marin Ireland and Jim Gaffigan at Strong Stock Farm
LIGHT FROM LIGHT – starring Marin Ireland, Jim Gaffigan
Local writer and director, Paul Harril is a treasure to the Knoxville film community. In 2018, Harril filmed his second feature, Light from Light, in Knoxville with a heavy hitting group of producers behind him along with the production company, Sailor Bear (The Green Knight, A Ghost Story) and Elizabeth Moss. The gorgeously shot, written, and acted film tells the story of a single mom and part-time paranormal investigator who is asked to look into a possible "haunting" at a widower's farmhouse in East Tennessee. The moving story was shot in homes around Knoxville as well as Strong Stock Farm Rutledge Pike. Light from Light premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and had a theatrical release. The film can currently be seen on many streamers including Apple TV and Amazon. Enjoy the trailer!
These are just a small taste of the films that have been shot in our hometown in the last few years. Visit the Visit Knoxville Film Office to learn more and follow on Facebook for information on future projects, release dates, or when trailers and streaming become available.
Places mentioned in this blog where visitors can go today:
- Tennessee Theatre – The official state theatre of the state of Tennessee. Catch a Broadway show, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Opera, and more!
- Oliver Royale – Beautiful farm-to-table restaurant in Market Square with a seasonal menu.
- The Liter Board – Relaxed atmosphere for watching games on Cumberland Avenue near UT’s campus.
- Neyland Stadium – Visiting during football season? Check out our Guide to Gameday!
- McGhee Tyson Airport – 20+ nonstop destinations; come visit us!
- Historic North Knoxville – This neighborhood is full of beautiful Victorian and Craftsman style homes with lots of places to explore.
- The Original Freezo – Explore unique and eclectic Happy Holler here!
- Southern Railway Station – Grab a glass of wine at the Blue Slip Winery inside.
- Emory Place – Small neighborhood north of the Old City, check out anchor Crafty Bastard Brewery for a taste of some of the most creative beer around.
- Pilot Light –Experience indie and experimental bands at this cozy venue.
- Knoxville Convention Center – Visitors can see their incredible artwork collection, also home to the world’s largest Rubik’s Cube (a relic from the 1982 World’s Fair).
- Crowne Plaza Hotel – Have a drink at their bar or dine at Mahogany’s.
- Strong Stock Farm – Open for events only.