Wisconsin home and business owners experience filming at their property

By: Steve Mathie
Staff Writer

COLUMBUS, Wis. - For the people in a few small towns, you don’t have to explain why Executive Producer and Director Michael Mann would want to film his Forward Pass production in Wisconsin, they don’t care. They’re just excited that their hometowns are being used for on-location filming in what is anticipated to be one of the biggest box office hits in the Summer of 2009.

“It was amazing to see how many people are actually involved in a shoot,” said Dennis Buchda, owner of Richards Insurance in downtown Columbus, Wis. “We are just a small corner business, and they set-up here for weeks and used the inside of our building to set up and control the old school traffic lights they put outside.”

Public Enemies is scheduled to be released by Universal Pictures in July next year. Mann, who himself has local ties as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spread his production across the state to utilize historical towns that have been preserved and capture the essence of real life locations that can’t be doubled for in any Hollywood studio. Columbus was right in the thick of it.

“Universal came in and took out what they didn’t want, like the front door,” said Buchda. “They decorated the building to fit the 1930s. Then when they were done they put it back to how it looked before the set up, almost even better.”

When a production crew comes and shoots, everyone becomes enthralled with the cameras, crew and actors and actresses that transform people’s homes and businesses into Hollywood.

Public Enemies will star Johnny Depp as 1930s gangster John Dillinger, one of America’s Most Wanted criminals during the years of the depression and after it. Dillinger and his boys Lester Gillis, who was dubbed Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham), and Homer Van Meter (Stephen Dorff) were robbing banks and killing men across the Midwest.

Buchda said that one day an employee was leaving the office when a black escalade rolled up, and Johnny Depp jumped out and greeted her, giving her an autograph.

“Johnny Depp was more than accommodating to the fans as far as being friendly goes, so were the whole crew. They would come in early and the morning and just visit with us. Universal handled the legalities and logistics really well, and the compensation for the use of our property was more than adequate.”

Commercial properties owners were not the only locations used for filming Public Enemies. Heidi Poser’s tudor style home was used for filming interior and exterior shots this summer. In an interview with filminglocations.com Poser’s interior was used for a number of shots, as was the barn outside. The terrace, kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom and hall were all used in shots. When asked whether or not she ever thought a major motion picture would shoot in her home, Poser answers assertively.

“No not at all, and we had absolutely no idea what to expect but we jumped at the chance to do it,” said Poser. “Everything was fine and it was very exciting. Lots of people were driving by trying to see Johnny Depp and the crew. They got here at 7 in the morning and filmed until 1:30 in the morning the next day, but when they left everything was back the way it was, everything was fine.”

Much like other individuals around the state of Wisconsin who experienced filming of this movie, Poser says Johnny Depp was as nice as his reputation for good looks.

“Johnny Depp was kind enough to pose for pictures with the children. The experience of meeting the production crew was interesting, they are very hard working people,” said Poser.

Poser added that they actually used her home two different times over the summer, and was compensated both times for its use.

For the people of Columbus, the experience of having filming done in their town at businesses and homes is one they will never forget. Now they can talk about the Hollywood experience and wait patiently to see the places they see everyday show up in one of the summers’ most anticipated releases.

Filminglocations.com is the leading website for connecting properties across the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico for filming movies, TV shows, commercials and video shoots. Filminglocations.com connects Hollywood with thousands and thousands of properties.

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