Blinding set lights, props and cameras filled Main Street in Locke, while residents, curious spectators and crewmembers watched as Director Walter Salles yelled, “action!”
Locke was the final stop for the film, which will be released in 2011. The motion picture is an adaptation of American novelist Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” which was written in 1951 and released in 1957. Famous American writers and musicians such as Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits have been known to be some of Kerouac’s most devoted fans. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” tied in with his idol’s style – though in a much more deranged way.
Sam Riley, a British actor, plays Sal Paradise – Kerouac’s alter-ego in the novel. Riley and his cast members mingled downtown, meeting the extras on set and Locke locals.
The Locke Management Association [LMA] allowed the crew to rent the Locke Boarding House during filming. The venue served as a food station and rest area for actors and crew, while the Boat House was decorated for the film’s wrap party later in the evening.
“Isn’t this so cool?” asked Martha Esch, local artist and business owner in town. “It’s so exciting.”
LMA Director Ernie Webster accompanied fellow residents on Main Street to watch the film’s production as well. Crewmember Paul Burke also chatted with the River News-Herald about production and photos on set.
Esch prepared dinner and dessert for locals who had been peaking around corners all afternoon. Crewmembers, however, were happily surprised by her generosity. “This is a first,” said a crewmember. “I don’t think we’ve ever been offered food by people in town!”
The film adaptation of “On the Road” has been in the works for years. First Gus Van Sant owned the rights to Kerouac’s novel, though Russell Banks produced a screenplay for Francis Ford Coppola in 1980. Coppola bought the film rights for $95,000. After 30 years, Brazilian Director Walter Salles [Motorcycle Diaries] took over the project, which was produced by both Coppola and Van Sant.
To prepare for filming, Salles traveled to the U.S. and retraced Kerouac’s footsteps throughout the novel. With him, highly acclaimed actors such as Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams and Steve Buscemi began filming.The $25 million movie takes the viewer throughout Kerouac’s largely autobiographical novel, which entails his journey through Mid-America.
The crew set up in Locke for three days, but the film’s stars didn’t arrive until after their shoot in San Francisco on Friday and Saturday morning.
“We’re still on the Bay Bridge, but we should be there very soon,” said Location Manager Felix Gehn, early Saturday morning. Later, he introduced himself and chatted with staff and locals in town.
Security blocked Highway 160, ensuring that semi trucks and passing cars didn’t interfere with scenes. Dusty’s store was decorated with props from the 1930s. Designed chip bags hung from clips, salted meats and cheeses were on display near the front of the store, while old-fashioned tobacco, canned goods, and household supplies filled the aisles. Pecans, walnuts and almonds also were on display in front of Dusty’s store that night. Al the Whop’s was covered with white and was the location for the film’s final scene.
Onlookers starred as Sam Riley walked down Locke’s infamous Main Street – from the tall stairwell, into the street and down the sidewalk. The crew shot the 15-second scene nearly 10 times as crewmembers and residents kept quiet. As he passed three female extras, who sat on a bench near Al the Whoop’s, one said, “What the hell are you looking at” as Riley’s character strolled by.
After the director yelled cut for the last time, crewmembers rushed to Al the Wop’s and filmed – wrapping up the movie and Locke’s involvement with the Hollywood film.
Staff began to disassemble the set on Sunday morning and tour busses, equipment trailers and actors left the tiny historical town that morning. Salle’s version of “On the Road” is set to be released in late 2011.