Cape enjoys 'Killshot' karma

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Diane Lane and Johnny Knoxville shared a moment together while walking along Main Street in Cape Girardeau before filming one of the scenes from the movie "Killshot." Lane is playing the part of Carmen, who is on the run from a pair of hit men. Knoxville is playing the part of a Deputy U.S. Marshal. (Photos by Diane L. Wilson)

In the hierarchy of movie personnel, Amanda Massey is at the lowest rung -- she's a runner.

Her job is, as the name implies, to run around the set of "Killshot" getting whatever actors, extras and production staff needs.

But Massey doesn't mind being delegated to a runner. It's still by and large the most exciting job she's ever had.

Especially when she gets to serve cheese cubes to and talk with Diane Lane at the bottom of the steps of the Common Pleas Courthouse.

Was the experience exciting?

"Well, yeah!" Massey said with a beaming smile after exchanging a few words with Lane.

Massey was one of the hundreds of locals who got close to the Hollywood stars on Monday, the first day of shooting for "Killshot" in Cape Girardeau.

John Madden, director of the Academy-Award winning "Shakespeare in Love," listened to the audio during the filming of "Killshot" at the bottom of the Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse steps Monday.

For Massey and the scores of other locals working in support of the film -- about 30 production assistants and 100 extras -- and the shooting crew, the day started before dawn. They arose anywhere between 4 and 5 a.m. to get ready for the start of the work day.

While Cape Girardeau Police Sgt. Rick Schmidt wasn't working for the movie, he reported to downtown at 5:30 a.m. to work security and traffic control. He was joined by two other police officers, all of whom volunteered to work the shift.

Throughout the course of the day, Schmidt and his co-workers followed the filming through the streets of downtown -- from the floodwall gate at Themis and Water streets to the steps of the Common Pleas Courthouse to the middle of Main Street and the old Hecht's building -- now dressed with mannequins -- where Johnny Knoxville joined the filming around 11 a.m.

The work was tedious for the stars, repeating shots over and over. As Lane and co-star Thomas Jane filmed a scene at the bottom of the courthouse steps, they were forced to repeat lines over and over.

Jane himself once ruined a take, joking "I'm sorry, I just get confused."

Caleb Eschanel, director of photography of the movie "Killshot", also helped film the movies "Passion of the Christ," "The Patriot," "Titanic" and "National Treasure."

Extras like Valerie Rutherford and Judy Pratcher of Cape Girardeau and Donna Gross of Jackson made enough trips by the top of the courthouse steps to make them intimately acquainted with the lines in the sidewalk. Despite the tedium, none seemed to mind.

"It wasn't annoying," said Pratcher. "I would have done it a thousand times."

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle had an unofficial all-access pass. Swingle took a vacation day Monday so he could be on the set, where he rubbed elbows with director John Madden and was interviewed for DVD bonus footage when the film reaches distribution.

Swingle's access was afforded by his relationship with Elmore Leonard, author of the "Killshot" book, who used Swingle as a consultant when he wrote the novel in 1987.

Knoxville noticed Swingle's home-designed steamboat tie and took it to wear for himself.

"To me this is more fun than having my face in the movie, getting to see the experts at work," Swingle said shortly before heading over where Madden was set up. Swingle put on a pair of headphones and got to view the film on Madden's monitor while it was being shot.

Thomas Jane, who plays the role of Wayne Colson in the movie "Killshot," also had large roles in the movies "The Punisher" and "The Deep Blue Sea."

Invariably the locals who had contact with those working on the filming had good things to say about the visitors.

Kathy Smith, an art professor at Southeast Missouri State University, took her dog Cully downtown for a mid-morning stroll, just in time to see the scene being shot at the floodwall.

After the shot was over and the crews made their way, pushing carts of equipment to the courthouse stairs, some stopped to talk to Smith about Cully.

"They all seem pretty cool," said Smith.

Spectators had easy access to the filming, as long as they weren't in the way of shooting. And some who hung around got autographs from Knoxville at the end of shooting.

Kim Robinson, co-owner of the Cup 'n' Cork, had some star clientele during the morning when Lane ordered Italian wedding soup for breakfast. Robinson was impressed by Lane's easy-going demeanor. The starlet wasn't stuffy or Hollywood, agreeing to pose for a picture with Robinson's oldest daughter.

The cafe opened at 5:30 a.m., bolstered by sales to the film crew and local spectators.

"They're an interesting group of people," said Robinson. "Some of them have already become regulars."

One of them is Madden, who bought a bottle of wine from the cafe last week.

The filming in Cape Girardeau "puts our best foot forward," Robinson said.

'Killshot' movie extras walked past Thomas Jane along Main Street as they got ready to play their parts during the filming of the movie in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Film crews had reason to be nice to locals, since residents were on their best behavior all day. Throughout the day spectators watched the filming, some taking pictures.

Schmidt said crowd control was no problem. People moved when they were asked without protest.

The only problem for crowd control was telling the spectators apart from the film crew, Schmidt said.

"One person in a sweatshirt looks just like another person with a sweatshirt," said Schmidt.

Estimating how many spectators were watching was difficult, Schmidt said, but he approximated 75 people were watching at the corner of Broadway and Main Street at 3 p.m.

Diane Lane and Thomas Jane, playing a Detroit couple on the run from a couple of hit men, taped one of their Killshot scenes at the bottom of the Cape Girardeau Courthouse Monday.

Patty Montgomery didn't even have to walk to see the action -- she had a great view from her perch at the Montgomery and Greaser law office on Themis. She was on that porch, drinking coffee and watching starting at 6 a.m.

"I love Diane Lane," Montgomery said.

Most locals were just glad to either see the stars, be part of the filming or to witness part of Cape Girardeau history.

"Now we can say in 2006, 'Killshot' was shot here and we were a part of it," said Gross.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

Browse a photo gallery of the shooting


Movie notebook

* Cape Girardeau police chief Carl Kinnison said the city had to close more streets than expected because of the automotive noise surrounding the set.

* "Killshot" filming is taking place on a closed set, meaning the media has no access to actors or high-level personnel in the filming.

* Filming is expected to continue at dawn today at the Missouri Dry Dock, where Jane's character finds employment as a dock worker. Filming will likely take place at the Dry Dock all day.

* The possibility of rain in the forecast shouldn't affect today's filming too much. Some inside shots need to be filmed (possibly away from the Dry Dock) that can be shifted in the shooting schedule, and the rain may not last all day.

* Shooting on Monday all took place downtown and wrapped up early around 4 p.m., after which Knoxville signed autographs.

* Rumors of shooting at the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge Monday were unfounded.

* Filming is expected to last six days.

-- Matt Sanders

'Killshot' facts

The book

* Written by Elmore Leonard in the 1980s.

The plot

* Two hit men meet by chance, then try to blackmail a real estate agent. The attempt fails, and they try to kill the witnesses. The victims are placed in a witness protection program.

The local tie

* The witnesses, Wayne and Carmen Colson, seek refuge in Cape Girardeau, where a creepy U.S. Marshal is assigned to take care of them.

* Leonard chose Cape for its unique name. He found an inland cape to be intriguing. He also thought that the downtown wall, which resembles a prison wall, provided some symbolism to the story.

The movie

* Directed by "Shakespeare in Love" director John Madden, starring Diane Lane, Johnny Knoxville and Thomas Jane.

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