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Counterpoint: Movie will irk some, though

Monday, September 19, 2005

While many are delighting in the fact that a major film will be partially shot in Cape Girardeau, there are no doubt others who will be annoyed by the inconveniences the hustle and bustle of the Hollywood machine.

There already have been some rumbling about traffic congestion, more packed restaurants, busier stores and huge crowds of people wandering around film sets.

"It's a double-edged sword," admits Jerry Jones, executive director of the Missouri Film Commission. "Like in any venture, when there is a temporary disruption, even if it's to the community good, there will be people who aren't happy."

Jones said he isn't privy to the production plans of "Killshot," which will be filmed for three days in Cape Girardeau the last week of December or the first week of January. So he doesn't know how many streets will need to be blocked off or even exactly where the film will be shot in town.

But in general terms, he said, blocked off streets are generally the biggest inconvenience for residents of a city where a film is being shot. Blocked off streets -- especially in the downtown area -- could hinder access to businesses. We've all seen how costly street construction projects can be to a businesses bottom line.

"Merchants might worry," Jones said. "But it's also like an event. It draws people down there. Any access problems could be offset by people wanting to come to their store after it's learned that a movie was shot near there."

Jones said another problem could be that there may not be enough opportunities for local people to participate in the process. He said there may be a need for extras -- ordinary people who act as walk-bys. There also will likely be local food vendors needed, contractors to help build sets and do electrical work.

But again, there probably won't be enough work for everyone who wants to participate.

"There may be some disappointment on that level," Jones said. "It's like any other business. There's only a finite number of positions."

Gene Walker was on the Pattonsburg City Council when "Riding With the Devil" was filmed by director Ang Lee. He remembers filmmakers putting facades on buildings, locals acting as extras and actor Tobey Maguire being in town.

"It's kind of a neat thing, saying you had a movie shot here," Walker said. "People still talk about it."

But it wasn't all peaches and cream, he said.

In that period-piece movie, they were filming in a portion of town that was about to be demolished because of flood damage. Still, it was near two state highways. Traffic was held up at a busy time, he said.

"It was in the spring, so farmers were trying to get their equipment from one place to another," he said. "So there was some aggravation of trying to move around that area while this whole thing was going on."

He said that when the movie crew arrived, they cordoned off a large area so they could control it. That annoyed some, as well.

"But most of them tried to work with us," he said. "They knew it was a good-will thing."

Once in a while, he said, they'd over-run a grocery store or take up a restaurant.

"But that really was as bad as it got," he said. "People may get aggravated for a while, but it was worth it. By and large, it was a positive situation."

-- Business Today


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