Hillsboro Serves As Stand In For 1950’s Rural Tennesse For Child of God’ Movie
Hillsboro, WV – Actor/director James Franco has been spotted around Pocahontas and surrounding counties recently with a cast, crew and cameras in tow. Franco, who has only recently started directed films, has taken on a large project based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy; Julie Buck explains.
“The book is called Child of God’, and it is about a character who, as everything is taken away from him, slowly degrades from being a part of society to basically becoming almost animalistic and living in caves, she says. “It is pretty heavy, but I have to say our lead actor, Scott Haze, is very physical and there are moments that are almost absurdist and comedic in a Chaplin-esque sort of way. I think people will be surprised when they see the final film.”
Julie is a line producer for Franco’s new film, tentatively titled “Child of God.” One scene of the film was shot on location in the Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsboro, WV. Julie says the cafe was a natural choice for the scene because of its preserved, old time look and interesting history.
“This is originally a store – a general store – I think from the late 1800’s,” she says. “Now, it’s actually a restaurant, but the front of the store still looks like a general store. We liked it so much. When you are doing a film set, you build sides and everything. We only used half the space, but it looked great in here.”
The filmmakers decided West Virginia was a great place to film for a few reasons, including scenery and government incentives.
“We chose West Virginia because…well, two reasons,” says Buck. “The book takes place in Sevierville, TN, in the 1950’s, which now is home to Gatlinburg and Dollywood and looks nothing like it did in the 50’s; we were looking for other options. We knew that this area had a lot of caves; there are caves in the book. We also knew that West Virginia has a really, really great tax incentive for filmmakers. So, the combination of the film board in West Virginia and having a scout come here, we just thought it was the perfect location to look like the 50’s.”
The weather is just one of the few things that isn’t going as expected. As Julie explains, the typically snowy weather that they had expected for this time of year just didn’t come when they were filming, something that was great for mobility but bad for the filmed scenery.
“We were hoping that it would snow, because part of the film does take place in the snow and describes the snow,” she says. “Last year, there was a huge amount of snow here, and the year before, too. We thought that maybe there would be this year, too, but it’s so much easier on the production end of it to actually get around when there’s not snow. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse.”
While the film is still in the early stages of the production process, Julie claims that, at the speed Franco and his crew work, she would expect to see the film in theaters before the end of this year. With any luck, local viewers won’t have to travel far to see their normal hangouts immortalized on the big screen.