Associate Producer Phillip S. Plowden said Monday that he was totally pleased with his experience making the independent film "Dig Two Graves" in Southern Illinois last month.
"I would love to bring another one down there," he said from Chicago.
Photos from the Illinois Film Office got the crew interested in Southern Illinois, but research trips to the area sealed the deal. Local historian and author Jon Musgrave assisted in scouting locations.
"We had a script and we felt we could meet the needs of the script in your area," he said.
"Dig Two Graves" is described by publicity for the film as "one part gothic thriller, one part comedy.”
It is the story of a young girl who is offered the chance to bring her beloved brother back to life if she takes the life of another. The title, "Dig Two Graves," is a reference to a Confucian proverb that warns, "When embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."
The railroad tunnel — namesake of the town of Tunnel Hill and the Tunnel Hill Trail — has charmed bicyclers for years. For the movie, the 543-foot tunnel provides a different tone.
"We had need of a dark foreboding area where the main character would meet the moonshiners. The railroad tunnel at Tunnel Hill provided that location."
The square in Marion became a scene of revelry for the movie.
"The buildings and the clock tower in Marion Square were perfect for our carnival scene. We liked the circular town square," Plowden said.
Sometimes convenience figures in.
"Mermet Springs was a perfect location. Lots of parking and access to U.S. Route 45,” Plowden said.
The state itself provides an incentive for film makers to shoot here.
"The Illinois tax credit for movie makers was a factor also," he said.
Southern Illinois not only provided a scenic backdrop for the film, it also served as a location for set construction.
"We built some interiors in a storage building at 900 Skyline Drive in Marion. They worked out fine,” he said.
Their happiest surprise was the people of the region.
“Everyone was so accommodating. Mayors, police and people in general. A couple of farmers pulled one of our vehicles out of the mud. When you are shooting in a big city it is a little more buttoned up,” Plowden said.
Working with the cast was wonderful, Plowden said, “Especially newcomer Sami Isler. We got to calling her ‘one take Isler.’ She just nailed it."
The cast includes Ted Levine from “Shutter Island” and “Silence of the Lambs,” Danny Goldring from “The Dark Knight,” Troy Ruptash from “Mad Men,” and Isler, a 14-year-old newcomer and Oklahoma native.