As a film producer for more than 30 years, Allan Smith has traveled from the glitzy shores of Singapore to the remote caves of Transnistria in eastern Europe.
But one place he’s had his eye on for several years is the Triangle, where Smith and his wife first visited in the late 1990s.
Smith said he saw living and working conditions worsen in Los Angeles and improve in North Carolina. He began to consider relocating his business.
In June, he actually did it.
The 52-year-old packed up his belongings and his business, DreamQuest Productions, and moved from LA to Cary.
“The cost of living was a definite factor,” he said. “It’s much cheaper (in Cary) than it is to live and produce in Los Angeles.”
Apart from Cary having a low crime rate and “beautiful” greenways, Smith said the Triangle also offers an untapped well of resources. He noted local media agencies, universities and tech companies such as SAS that the area is known for.
“Cary could really be on the forefront of a media boom,” he said.
Smith and his wife, a nurse, are still unpacking their new home while he looks for office space in Cary.
He recently met with Ted Boyd, Cary’s downtown manager, to talk about available spaces. Boyd said DreamQuest is the kind of business any town would be lucky to have.
“Attracting the creative class is important,” Boyd said. “The creative industries are great because they tend to be collaborative and bring a lot of energy downtown.”
Smith already joined the Cary Chamber of Commerce, which didn’t have such a company among its member ranks.
“With all the film work in North Carolina, to have (Smith) in Cary is very exciting,” said Kyle Greer, vice president of economic development for the chamber.
Smith became a producer after working as a paramedic and serving in the Marines.
But his work in the entertainment industry dates back to his elementary school years.
“My parents made me a child actor when I was 6,” he said.
He acted in commercials and had spots in “The Brady Bunch” and “Gunsmoke,” he said.
In recent years, Smith carved out a niche for DreamQuest Productions as a crew that specializes in documentary and adventure films.
“If it involves jumping out of an airplane or trekking through a jungle, that’s what we love to do,” he said.
For example, the company recently filmed on Mt. Everest for the film “Eight Summits.”
But one of the company’s best-known films is “Rescue Men: The Story of the Pea Island Lifesavers,” a documentary about black lifesavers who worked along North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The film was named best documentary feature at the 2011 San Francisco Ocean Film Festival and best documentary at the 2011 N.C. Triangle Press Club.
Smith thinks the Tar Heel state has the potential to produce even more award-winning documentaries.
“There are so many untold stories in Carolina that people don’t realize,” he said.