A production company filming a supernatural-themed cable show in York County can shoot on county-owned property, despite one County Council members’ concern that the show promotes occult themes.
The York County Council voted Monday to approve a venue agreement with Ficus Tree Productions, which began shooting the Cinemax series “Outcast” in York last week. But, Councilman Bruce Henderson voted against the agreement at Monday’s meeting because he says the series features “demonic possession” and “Satan worship.”
“I think we have a double standard ... When we endorse something involved with the occult, with killing,” he said. “This might be watched by those missing a few bricks who hadn’t thought of this before and say, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea.’”
The fictional show focuses on an exorcism in a small West Virginia town. Producers have already painted a mural for the show’s filming in downtown York to depict the fictional town of Rome, W.Va.. The mural is near the intersection of Main and Congress streets in York, within view of the “Rome Police Department” temporary facade outside an old bank building on the corner.
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The venue agreement between York County government and the production company allows Ficus Tree to shoot at some county-owned venues in and around York and Rock Hill through December. TV film crews are not allowed to use the county’s Elections and Registration Office or the Agricultural Building on certain dates to avoid interference with this fall’s municipal elections.
Production officials have said they also plan to film in Chester County.
Council members approved the agreement despite Henderson’s objection, citing the “In God We Trust” motto displayed on the wall of the council chambers.
“They can keep it in Hollywood,” he said.
Others in the York community saw the issue differently.
The Rev. John Muse, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in downtown York, said the church had no problems letting the movie production company use its parking area to keep their vehicles.
“We were very much aware of who they were,” Muse said. “We knew they were a sci-fi horror flick. We knew it was from the producers of ‘The Walking Dead.’”
He said its not incorrect to bring up issues of what is appropriate. But, Muse said he doesn’t believe the church benefits from shutting others out, even if it doesn’t agree with them.
“I believe it’s a way that you always engage the conversation with people,” he said. “I don’t think we can hide from our witness. Even if you think something is demonic, to run from it is not the way to address it.”
Muse added that “what you watch does matter. But you still have to engage. And if it invites us to look at those darker issues in the life of Christ, that helps us sharpen what we believe.”
Some local casting is anticipated for the series, but no air date on Cinemax has been announced yet. The video trailer for “Outcast” has been released on the show’s Facebook page.
Jennifer Becknell contributed