MELVINDALE â€“ The city is getting its first taste of Hollywood this month as filming for â€œMachine Gun Preacherâ€ starts at a local mobile home park Monday.
The film, starring Gerard Butler (â€œ300,â€ â€œP.S. I Love Youâ€) as lead character Sam Childers, will be in town through July 28.
Set crews for the film already have been in town for two weeks, preparing the park that will serve as Childers’ home in the film. When filming begins there tomorrow, some of the set crew will move to a local bar to prepare it for other scenes in the film to be shot later this month.
City Administrator Paul LaManes serves as the film liason for the city and said officials have been working with Wayne County to offer locations for films looking to capture a small-town feel. In the case of â€œMachine Gun Preacher,â€ Melvindale will become a small Pennsylvania town.
â€œA representative of the production studio stopped in my office one day,â€ LaManes said of how the city secured its role in the film.
With staff from the film in town for nearly five weeks, three which will be spent filming, LaManes expects a small boost in the local economy.
â€œThe city has the regular permitting, but general businesses are going to benefit the most; more foot traffic,â€ he said. â€œJust exposure, real participation in the burgeoning film industry (is the biggest benefit).
â€œThe city’s not looking at this as a way to solve its fiscal problems. It’s a way of participating in Michigan’s film industry and we’re glad to do it.â€
The film also brings a few jobs to southeastern Michigan residents.
â€œThey were looking for a muralist two years ago for a movie, and I was a waitress,â€ said Dita Clouser, a scenic artist and Walled Lake resident. â€œMy boss, Steve, asked if I knew someone who could do it, and I said I could.â€
Clouser braved the 95-degree heat and sun Wednesday to paint rust onto the hinges of Childers’ garage door. Her role the past two weeks was to paint the park’s old trailers a new color and then paint them with textured paints to make them appear aged.
She has worked on creating the sets of films of several Michigan-made productions in the past two years, including â€œA Year in Mooringâ€ starring Josh Lucas in Traverse City, â€œHigh Schoolâ€ starring Adrien Brody in Howell, â€œHighland Parkâ€ starring Billy Burke in Highland Park and both â€œLittle Murderâ€ starring Lucas and â€œThe Irishmanâ€ starring Vincent D’Onofrio in Detroit before working with â€œMachine Gun Preacherâ€ in Melvindale.
Although the nearby Allen Park Studio Center is bringing films to the Downriver area, LaManes said â€œMachine Gun Preacherâ€ has no production-based connections to the center.
The film, which will be distributed nationally by Lionsgate (â€œSaw,â€ â€œGamerâ€), will bring five semitrucks’ worth of equipment to town for the filming, LaManes said.
â€œMachine Gun Preacherâ€ is the a biographical story of Childers, a drug-dealing biker who finds religion and dedicates his life to helping Sudanese children escape the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa. Childers founded the Angels of East Africa, a Children’s Village in Southern Sudan, for the children he saves from the LRA.