Eve Of The War

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Author:  craigr [ Thu May 15, 2008 5:43 am ]
Post subject:  PUBLIC ENEMIES

Hi, all!
A new film is currently in production in the US, scheduled for a 2009 release. Entitled Public Enemies, it's a film about the life of notorious 1930's gangster John Dillinger, who is played by Johnny Depp. Directed by Michael Mann, the film is currently filming around the country at various locations.
My city in Wisconsin is one of those locations.
Back in March 2008, the downtown was transformed to resemble an Indiana town in the 1930's. Most of the changes were to the store signs & windows and to the street; the buildings themselves required little alteration, which is one reason location scouts picked our town. (The streets were covered in sheets of rubber 'brick' that interlocked like a jigsaw puzzle. Parts of the streets which were in the background weren't 'bricked over,' but instead were painted the same general colour as the 'bricks.'
Another part of town involved in the filming is the Poser Mansion, a huge house on one of the hills in town.
More shooting was scheduled for late April, but got postponed twice. Finally, over the past two days, cast & crew returned to film a few more scenes. The next day, set dismantling began and will continue for a few days.
Next stop: Chicago!
Other cities in Wisconsin have also been used as locations, and the editing process will make many of these towns appear as one.
I have been taking a lot of pics of the transformation, as well as managing to be in the right place at the right time (with my camera, no less!) to get some shots of some of the filming. Many others have also done similar things, but it's cool to know that I was actually there, and that the photos I have, though not necessarily of high quality, are ones I took myself.
I'm still transferring many of the pics to my computer (which has problems, but that's a long story), and I want to sort everything before I post a ton of stuff, but I thought I'd share with you some of the pics I just took the other day. There are captions embedded, so without further ado, I share with you...
12 May 2008






(Yes, I misspelled 'Zarkovich.')


Bear in mind that the closeups of the actors & director were using full digital zoom on my camera (Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5), and that all of my pics are hand-held. Other than cropping, adding text & resizing for forum use, none of my photos are retouched in any way.

Oh, here's one I got in March. It's 'the getaway scene' just after a bank robbery. I was going to delete it from my camera because I didn't get all of the car, but when I zoomed in on the car itself, I realised that it was worth keeping!
That brick building the extra is hiding behind is actually a National Historic Landmark, the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank, designed by Louis Sullivan. It was one of the last 'Chicago School' banks he did, in 1919. Though not visible in the pic, the building had an extension on the other side built in the late 1970's/early 1980's which looked out of place; all glass & steel, like a skyscraper, only two stories tall. That was torn down & replaced in 2006 with a more 'old style' extension that now looks like its own free-standing building that actually wraps around the back end of the original bank building Sullivan designed. It fit perfectly with the rest of the town for the Public Enemies shoot.

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Sat May 17, 2008 1:05 am ]
Post subject: 

Very interesting, you find yourself looking for things that shouldn't be there such as TV aerials (antenna to you) and satellite dishes. :lol:
And you were right to keep that picture. =D>
That old Mercury looks fantastic.

Author:  craigr [ Sat May 17, 2008 4:29 am ]
Post subject: 

A large white house next to the mansion (off frame to the left in the mansion photo I posted) was partially covered with a huge olive-drab parachute so that it wouldn't be visible through windows during the interior mansion shots.

Michael Mann is reported to be a perfectionist with his shooting, so aerials & the like are not likely to show up at all, though I, too, thought about that. (By the way, I've hung out around enough sites & fora from across the pond that I didn't miss a beat when you mentioned aerials... when you stopped to point out the American equivalent, it threw off my reading 'stride.' I'm weird that way, I guess.)

I have more pics of the Mercury, including closeups of some of the detailing... headlamps, signal lights, the hood ornament (sorry, bonnet ornament :wink: ), even a couple of interior shots. (The window was open, security didn't stop me from leaning in, I was careful not to touch anything.) I'll post more next week, after I've cleaned up my computer and sorted through the pics I still have to get off my camera.

Another note about that "ACTION!" shot from March... as I mentioned, it's cropped from a much larger pic, which had lots of the building across the street visible, none of which were decorated as 1930's style. When I mentioned zooming in to look at the pic, it was on my camera's LED. After I got the pic on my computer & could view it full-sized, I was very happy I'd kept it!

I'll try to post a few other pics besides the Merc, too, but I won't make this thread a huge photo album. I'll just try to post some interesting stuff, including a couple more shots of different actors. I hope everyone finds this interesting; it was a lot of fun for me, especially because I didn't 'camp out' for hours or days waiting to get a shot. I just showed up at the right time, left when I was done (and thus missed some other good shots) and basically enjoyed myself with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Well, actually I was on another movie set back in the 1990's, purely by chance during a vacation with my parents: the battleship Alabama WWII museum, which at the time was being used as the Missouri for the film Under Siege. But that's a different story...

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Sat May 17, 2008 3:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

"In the right place at the right time". that reminds me of a story my brother told me, many many years back, the Queen (God Bless Her) was visiting our little city of Hull and all his work companions were waiting outside all afternoon to see her drive past, all except my brother who continued to work, at about 5pm they heard that the visit had been canceled or the route had been changed so everyone traipsed back in and desperately tried the catch up their lost afternoon, come 5.30 my brother packed up and left just as the Queen (God Bless Her) drove by, every one else in the workshop missed her. :lol:
I see from that action shot from March you still had snow on the ground so that must mean the film crew weren't just returning to re-shoot footage it must be for a totally different scene.

Author:  craigr [ Sun May 18, 2008 3:29 am ]
Post subject: 

Funny story, that of your brother!

As for the snow on the ground, here's an interesting bit of trivia: all the snow that appeared in the shot was fake, placed there by set decorators. The real snow that we actually did have on the ground was too dirty and too melted/icy to look 'right' for the shoot. Ironically, we had a snowstorm a few days after March shooting wrapped, which dumped several inches of the stuff on our whole state.

You're correct about the different seasons in reality representing different seasons in the film, though. But even in that, there's a little Hollywood trickery going on. Some interior shots at the Poser Mansion were done in March, with fake tree branches placed outside the windows to make the view look like late spring/early summer. Odd sight, seeing 'live' greenery in the snow-covered yard in March.

I'm eager to see how all this will be edited together; not only differing seasons, but differing locations from around the state represent one or two towns in parts of the film. I know about that aspect of movie making, of course, but it's neat to have witnessed part of it firsthand!

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

It's quite amazing how much trouble the crew go to, to make it all as realistic as possible and yet the average film-goer has no idea what goes on behind the scenes, which is as it should be.
Although this genera is not my usual type of film entertainment I think I'll make an effort to see this one.

Author:  craigr [ Tue May 20, 2008 1:12 am ]
Post subject: 

The best special effects in any movie are the ones you don't even realise are special effects. (Same with scenic & makeup, of course.)

I likely would not have been interested in seeing this film, either, but now I shall try to do so. I'm sure some of the locals in my area will try to organise an opening night screening when it is released in our area, so I'll see about attending that.

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