Caldwell County native turns camera on local history
The man who has chronicled much of Caldwell County’s history on film started out making horror movies.
To be fair, Lance Main is Caldwell through and through.
He was born in Lenoir at Caldwell Memorial Hospital, the son of factory workers. Much later, Main was hired to create the first of a series of documentaries on the county’s history, produced by the Caldwell Heritage Museum.
But before that, he made horror films.
Main’s interest in the movies started as “curiosity and a video camera,” he said – home movies and little stunts carried out with his six siblings.
In 2006, he made his first feature-length film. He started with horror simply because it was the genre he liked most.
“How we got started here at the studio was just by really liking what we saw at the cinema,” Main said. “I wanted to try to emulate that.”
Main tried to spread the word of his movies through advertising and word of mouth. Each time he made a film, he searched for local talent to fill the roles.
That’s how he ran into Betty Buss, who was on the board of the heritage museum. She asked if she could tag along on a shoot, and while she was there, told Main the museum wanted to make a documentary about the county’s history.
They had been quoted a sky-high price from an out-of-town filmmaker.
Main offered to make the film for less – and to make it as a local. The museum’s board accepted.
Lance Main likes genealogy. He likes knowing where people came from, where his people came from. Before he was ever hired to create the museum’s documentaries, hehad traced his family’s roots back to England.
When the cameras started rolling on his new project, he got to see where everyone came from. It flipped the lens onto his hometown and helped him see it anew.
“Now, as I look at Lenoir, I look at it a little differently,” Main said. “Because I’m thinking 100 years ago, 150 years ago.”
To date, four documentaries have been made. Main said he anticipates making at least four more, at the pace of about one a year.
The next documentary will focus on one of the county’s biggest beginnings: the arrival of the Broyhills and Bernhardts and the first foothold of the furniture industry in the foothills.
And Main will keep going on his personal projects, as well. He’s still loyal to his favorite genre and has a couple of horror shorts in the works. He also offers lessons in photography and music through his Main Event Studios.
Through it all, he has been a local teller of local history – and he’s glad he got the opportunity.
“Someone that isn’t a native, or someone that wasn’t born in this area, maybe they wouldn’t have pushed as much to get it right,” he said.