Meet CFA President Linda Lee

Fallen Oak on Hunting island State park.
photo by Ray Stevens, Coastal Regional Chief, State Park Service

By Patra Taylor

In March 2016, Linda Lee became president of the Carolina Film Alliance, South Carolina’s only non-profit organization created specifically to advocate for the film and television industry across the state. An original member and long-term vice president of the Alliance, the energetic Lee was deemed the perfect successor to handle the rigors of the position. From her decades of experience working in various roles in the industry, she developed a keen understanding of the complexities involved in the business of film production. Additionally, she has long been a vocal activist for the state’s closely-knit filmmaking community.

Lee got her start in the film industry in New Orleans during the early 1970s. A retail buyer for a department store, she filled her free time working as a makeup artist/stylist for a still photographer. According to Lee, one thing led to another.  Before long, she’d parted ways with her 9 to 5 job and opened her own production company, mainly doing commercial work in the area.

Then in 1976, “Saturday Night Live” arrived in New Orleans to do their first (and only) Mardi Gras special. According to Lee, her vital role in that production was being responsible for John Belushi’s can of Dixie beer just prior to him delivering his famous line, “Stella!” She must have performed her duty well because before long, Lee was packing for the Big Apple. There she began a gig at NBC working as a producer for Jim Signorelli, who directed SNL’s parody commercials.

After several exhausting years working in New York, Lee took a break from the film and television industry – and her husband. She accepted a position as a repo agent, allowing her to wander the state and the vicinity and drive really expensive automobiles. While the job proved a welcome respite from the demands of filmmaking, Lee admits she wasn’t cut out for the work, often offering people behind on their payments tips on how to hide their vehicles from repo agents.

Ultimately, Lee moved back to the Charleston area where she’d grown up. As luck would have it, she was just in time to be part in the state’s late 20th century filmmaking heyday, raking in credits in a number of productions that had chosen the picturesque Holy City as the backdrop for their works. That list includes:  Art Dept. coordinator for “Queen,” a 1992 mini-series; Location scout for “The War,” a 1994 feature film; On-set dresser for “The Yearling,” a 1993 CBS mow;  assistant location manager for “Scarlett,” a 1994 mini-series;  location manager for “Sweet Justice,” a 1992 TV series, “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” a 1995 feature film; “White Squall,” a 1996 feature film; “An Occasional Hell,” a 1995 feature film; “Deceiver,” a 1997 feature film; “Carriers,” a 1997 mow, “The Tempest,“ a 1998 mow, and “The Patriot,” a 2000 feature film. Since 1991, Lee has also served as a location scout for the South Carolina Film Office.  After a long illness, and thanks to a fundraiser put on by CFA that helped pay for a stem cell transplant, Lee was back to work in 2007 as co-location manager with Steve Rhea on the pilot, “Reinventing the Wheelers.” Location Scout for “The Bay,” a 2010 feature.  Asst. Location Mgr. for the pilot, “Reckless” and location scout for “Reckless” season 1 in 2013.

She continued to work as her friend Steve Yetman’s location scout for 2014 “Identity” and “South of Hell” and “The Sinner” in 2016.  

While Lee continues to work when viable opportunities present themselves, she now spends much of her free time promoting the film and television industry through her role as president of the Carolina Film Alliance.

The Yearling, 1994.

© 2019 Southeast Film Guide