NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - While students inside the school were taking their SATs, a teen outside Hoggard High School was transforming into a superhero, as film cameras rolled on the set of Max Steel.
The movie will follow the adventures of Max McGrath, a 16-year-old loner who teams up with an alien companion, Steel, to fight mysterious forces threatening the world.
Ben Winchell plays Max in the movie.
"When I read the script, I felt really close to him," he said. "There was a lot that I connected with him on."
That's why Winchell doesn't feel nervous about being the live-action version of the popular Mattel character.
"I didn't feel any nervousness to start and jump into his skin," he said. "I was just ready to do it, I felt excited."
Adding to the excitement on set is the recent addition of Academy-Award nominee Andy Garcia to the cast.
This marks a return to Wilmington for Garcia, who shot a film here last year.
Ana Villafane, who plays Sofia Martinez in the film, said her Cuban family is excited for her to work with Garcia.
"My mother found out and just squealed! She is a major fan," Villafane explained. "And he's just such an iconic figure and such a brilliant actor so on that level, it is already exciting."
Villafane happily describes her first week on set, gushing as she talks about her experience in Wilmington so far and her character's car, a Scout International.
"I feel so powerful and it's so awesome and it's unexpected, this girl with her truck," she said. "It's been very cool to be here in Wilmington for this. It's such a laid back atmosphere but there's still an energy and buzz to it and so it's a very great place to be inspired. It's a very, very good place to be creative."
The producer of the movie, Julia Pistor, said they couldn't have found a more perfect place to make the film.
We were scouting all over the world," Pistor said. "We were looking at South Africa, Canada, Louisiana. We got off the plane. We went and saw the house that is going to be Max McGrath's house. We literally called L.A. and said, 'We are shooting here.'"
Pistor said creatively Wilmington attracted them; however, it would not have been in consideration if it weren't for the state's film incentive program.
"We loved it creatively which is really first and foremost what we have to make our decisions on but without the incentives we probably would have gone to South Africa or somewhere else because it just gets harder and harder to finance films whether its independent films or studio films," she said. "I think we are always looking for some kind of incentive to help us."
The film will wrap production at the end of the month. In all, the production will spend 25 days filming in New Hanover County;17 days will be spent filming at the old Ideal Cement Plant in Castle Hayne.
Max Steel is expected to be released in theaters sometime next year.