Hollywood Comes to Gary | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Hollywood Comes to Gary

Dilapidated buildings, crumbling streets and burned out store fronts aren't exactly what people want to see when looking for a home. But those are things Hollywood location scouts sometimes want when trying to find spots to shoot scenes for a film. Seems Tinseltown has taken to Gary, Indiana recently. The struggling Steel City is trying to capitalize on its misfortunes.

Production assistant Andre King sets up his crew on the set of a new movie being shot downtown Gary.

ambi….crew member shouts: Rolling!....going again …. And we're cut and we're reloading.

Actually, the movie is new but the story is a familiar one.


A new version of the classic horror movie Nightmare on Elm Street, featuring the always delightful Freddie Krueger, is being filmed. The story is set in a fictional town in Ohio.

But to bring the town alive, so to speak, parts of the film are being shot in Gary that have, well, been kind of dead. Recently, the cast and crew set up shop here inside City Methodist Church. It's a once beautiful limestone structure abandoned long ago.

A chain link fence surrounds this structure now. If you look up you can see that most of the roof is missing. There are beautiful glass windows but they are all broken out. Walk over to the sanctuary and there's just tons and tons of rubble.

The church was shot as part of the History Channel's Life After People series And now, the church is the temporary digs of Freddie Krueger.

WORMAN: They fell in love with this one particular location because it completely, esthetically fit the bill of what they were looking for.

Alex Worman is the unit publicist for the film being produce by New Line Cinema. Worman says the site was discovered by its location scouts.

WORMAN: It's a real glorious, 1926 Gothic church. And, it perfectly fit a horror fantasy like a Nightmare on Elm Street.

The city of Gary is more known for making steel, not movies.

Ben Clement heads the city's film and television office. Clement says these types of productions can help bring in more revenue to the city at a time when it needs it most because of a dwindling tax base.

PUENTE: Has that happened?
CLEMENT: It's getting there as evidence by what's going on right now. We're getting there. This is another major step for us.

Clement says at least a dozen films have been shot in Gary over the past two years.

But one film in particular, the 1996 movie Original Gangstas, starring Gary native Fred “the Hammer” Williamson and NFL legend Jim Brown, portrayed Gary as a tough place.

Clip from movie

It's those kinds of films that Clement hopes to stay away from.

CLEMENT: We're always concerned about our image because our image is not the best. So to combat that we try to minimize that negative image we try to minimize the amount of media or motion picture production that contributes to that negative image.

The mayor of Gary, Rudy Clay, says he's less concern about what types of movies film here, gangster or otherwise.

CLAY: We're not going to be too picky, although we would love to have more movies that don't deal with violence. We're not going to be that adamant about not making movies in Gary and all of that because it's a movie!

Dozens of onlookers from the neighborhood gawked and tried looking for movie stars during the all night shoot.

One Gary resident, Bob Smith isn't happy about all the filmmaking that's going on in town.

SMITH: It's ain't no good. They did the train station the same way.

Smith lives in a senior citizens apartment complex adjacent to where the film shoot was taking place. He says Hollywood is just making fun of his city.

SMITH: No, it's not going to benefit Gary. It's ridiculing Gary.

His buddy, Charlie Wheeler disagrees.

WHEELER: They should use it. Anything helps.

Gary's film and television office says brighter projects may lie ahead.

(music clip)

Clement says members of one of the most famous musical families to come out of Gary, the Jackson Five, were in town last week. Tito and Marlon, not Michael.

The family is talking to the city about shooting a reality show based on their lives right here in the city.

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