Bullish market for film shoot downtown
Hollywood came to the Putnam County Courthouse Square Saturday, complete with lights, cameras and calls to "action" as the film "Reparation" spent much of the day filming scenes in downtown Greencastle.
Drawing more visitors to the Farmers Market than free concerts and Starbucks drink samples ever have, the film shoot featured local extras, drive-by gawkers and plenty of down time as scenes were set up, shot from several angles and set up again.
Even the obligatory temperamental star turned up for the shoot, only this one didn't pout, sulk or lash out at minor inconveniences as much as it balked at its use in general.
That's because the unpredictable star of this film is a faded bluish-gray 1971 Ford pickup that producer Kyle Ham -- the 1994 DePauw University grad who co-wrote the script for "Reparation" with theater professor Steve Timm of Greencastle -- brought in from Oklahoma where it had languished in his father's barn the past 20 years.
The old truck was brought in on a flat-bed trailer to serve as the vehicle Bob Stevens (lead actor Marc Menchaca), a veteran-turned-vegetable farmer who has a three-year hole in his memory, uses to bring his produce to market.
Time and again Saturday, Menchaca would drive the truck south on North Indiana Street, rumbling up to the square before jumping out to grab a couple bushels of tomatoes from the bed to deliver to Papaw's Produce, a stand at the east end of the market manned by William Boyette and his daughter, Sandy Masten.
Eagle-eyed State Trooper Scott Stockton, likely to be the new Putnam County sheriff after his big primary election victory, watched nearby, wondering who the truck belongs to since it carries a local license plate.
Told the filmmakers had brought the vehicle in from Oklahoma, Stockton winked and smiled, "Oh, false or fictitious, eh? Only a trooper would notice something like that."
Turns out, however, that the movie crew has all its ducks in a row. Timm pointed out that they actually registered the truck locally to Reparation Films using his address. So it is probably more street legal that anything with four flashy wheels in a "Fast and Furious" movie.
"Kyle's been driving it (around town) since April," Timm said, figuring if the old truck was gong to quit on them they'd rather it happen before filming commenced.
Well, timing is everything. The day before shooting started, the truck -- an old "three-on-the-tree" model -- lost both first gear and reverse.
The old truck was quickly taken to Hendershot's Service Center, where its master cylinder and starter were both replaced, making the vehicle at least operational for its film debut.
The truck's entire steering column is in need of replacement, but the closest parts have been located in Alabama, Timm said.
So in the meantime, whenever the crew needed the truck backed up, Menchaca would jump out and help drag it backward down Indiana Street.
Noting the presence of the 43-year-old truck, Producer Ham was asked if the film itself was set in the days just after the end of the Vietnam War.
"No," he smiled, "it's just an old truck."
"Reparation," set in present day, has been described as a psychological thriller revolving around Menchaca's Bob Stevens character, a veteran-turned-vegetable farmer haunted by a three-year hole in his memory.
As an adaptation of "The Activist," a play written by Timm, the indie film also stars Jon Huertas (who plays Det. Esposito on the TV series "Castle"). Menchaca, meanwhile, is perhaps best known for portraying Lauder Wakefield, an alcoholic disabled ex-Marine in the acclaimed Showtime series "Homeland."
Most of Saturday morning was spent with Menchaca behind the wheel of the old truck or interacting with Boyette at his produce stand.
The scene called for the star to deliver his produce, apologize to Boyette with "Hey, I'm sorry I was late," get his money and head back to the truck.
Boyette, who pulls two tomatoes out of the bushel and puts them aside each time, responds with "No problem, thanks, Bob."
After about the fifth take, Boyette adlibs with "Bob's not going to have any tomatoes left if we keep doing this."
Another time, a real Farmers Market customer spies the tomatoes and asks how much they cost.
"What do you want to pay me for them?" Boy-ette responds, "They're not mine."
Rain intervened in the shooting schedule late Saturday morning, as it has much of the past week. Timm and Ham remained undaunted, moving the crew around to dry ground and waiting on skies to clear.
"We shot right up to the thunder and lightning the other day at Hobbit Gardens (being utilized as Bob's homeplace)," Timm said. "Then we took the whole thing inside."
The crew also shot two days last week in Roachdale, filming Bob's fictitious vegetable stand there.
"We're hitting all corners of Putnam County," Ham explained earlier in an appearance before the Greencastle City Council.
"To us," he added, "the community itself is really one of the characters in the movie. We want to do justice to it."