SALINE COUNTY -- If you've noticed any vampires lurking about, it may not be just the Halloween season.
Local filmmaker Jeramie Sandor has been filming his latest project, "Dark Threat," in several locations in Saline County as well as other spots in southern Illinois. The film is a tale of a rising vampire threat to human existence and the actions of those trying to put an end to the vampires.
Sandor has been making films for a number of years, and says each project has its own distinct challenges.
"Most of the shots are supposed to be during the nighttime, but we're only able to do so many shots at night," Sandor said. "Several times we'll have to shoot during the day in shaded or shadowy locations and then in post production turn it into a night scene."
One thing that hasn't been a struggle is finding great locations to shoot, he said. The well-known tipple at the old O'Gara No. 12 mine in Muddy is the backdrop of one scene, plus the Muddy village park. Other locations include private property in Eldorado and Carbondale, a cemetery in Murphysboro and the old Curwood Factory, also in Murphysboro.
"In making this movie, I'm choosing these places because I have a love of this area, and I do believe this project benefits our area," he said. "I feel like there are a lot of untapped areas to shoot in southern Illinois."
Jon Musgrave of Marion, a co-founder of the Southern Illinois Film Commission, agrees.
"We have a lot of locations that will make unique and ideal settings for film productions, whether they be movies or a series," Musgrave said.
Musgrave, who has been on site for some of Sandor's film shots, said the region is ripe for productions.
"Part of what I do is make contact with directors and make them aware of what opportunities they have in southern Illinois," he said.
In recent years, Illinois has passed legislation to offer tax credits to qualifying productions to make the state an attractive location for films and television shows, he said.
"There are a number of great incentives to film in Illinois, and we'd like to see those incentives increase to help drive more film production here," Musgrave said.
Musgrave said many people may not realize the boost to the local economy that comes with shoots on location.
"There are going to be meal purchases, fuel purchases and additional purchases made by people simply because they are in a certain location," Musgrave said. "It doesn't take long for tax revenues from those purchases to have an effect."
Online awareness of film projects allow directors to reach out to a greater talent pool as well. Members of Sandor's cast and crew, for example, come from near and far.
"We have people from Florissant, Missouri, Davenport, Iowa, Dekalb, the Cape Girardeau area, Columbia, Missouri, and St. Louis, to mention a few," he said. "We have people from five states involved in this project in one way or another."
One family drove from Dyer, Indiana. Cynthia Tomei and her husband brought their children Lily and Nick to Saline County for a scene.
"Lily has desires and ambitions to be an actress, and we want to encourage her interest," Cynthia said. "It's a bit of a drive, but this is something we wanted to be involved in."
Sandor said he's seen firsthand the benefits his project has brought.
"First, the actors and actresses and production crew go out to eat during their downtime and get to enjoy the area," he said. "And, the response has been very positive. At one gas station, the subject came up between the attendant and one of our actresses. The attendant mentioned that if we needed to shoot a scene at a gas station, we could get ahold of them and use that location."
Sandor said he and others involved with the production will have quite a bit of work once shooting is finished, but he anticipates a spring screening of the film.
"We have a great crew and a great cast, and we're looking forward to bringing 'Dark Threat' to the big screen as soon as it's ready," he said.