Film Turns Downtown Oklahoma City Into 1950s Texas

The streets of downtown Oklahoma City are standing in for 1950s Texas in what officials hope will be one of many film productions coming to the state.

Actor Casey Affleck donned a light-colored cowboy hat and a dark blue suit Saturday as he walked past an old bank building that was serving as a Fort Worth train station for the filming of "The Killer Inside Me."

Signs directing pedestrians to the trains were posted on the side of the First National Building and a Texas flag flew overhead.

"It's the first chance we've had to give some real scale to the movie. It's the first time we've shot on streets this size with all of the extras," producer Andrew Eaton said.

The filming, which is about halfway through a five-week stretch in Oklahoma, is the fruitful finish both for producers, who've been struggling to get the movie off the ground, and for the Oklahoma Film and Music Commission in its efforts to secure a significant motion picture shot in the state.

The film also stars Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba and is considered the biggest movie to be shot in Oklahoma since "Twister" in 1996.

"We started trying to prep this film when the credit crunch just happened. That was last October, and we lost the financing twice," Eaton said. "We were supposed to start shooting in January and here we are in June still shooting the movie."

Even the time in Oklahoma has had its bumps. Affleck, who plays the main character, pulled a muscle in his back while lifting Alba and filming had to be stopped for four days, Eaton said. That occurred at about the same time that Alba ran into trouble for allegedly hanging up posters about great white sharks and became the subject of a police investigation.

All in all, though, producers said they've been pleased with Oklahoma as a site for the movie set in West Texas.

"Obviously, we all know that you guys have a fabulous film subsidy and that's very important to us," producer Brad Schlei said. "Really, we went to Texas, we went to New Mexico, we went location scouting all over the place and (director Michael Winterbottom) really loved it here. It has everything we need."

Schlei said he is considering bringing two other film projects to Oklahoma: one based on the A.M. Homes book "Music for Torching" and another based on the Iceberg Slim book "Mama Black Widow."

"It's a real American town and the people make you feel that way, too," Schlei said of Oklahoma City. "They make you feel wanted and accepted."

Jill Simpson, the director of the state film and music office, said she hopes word of mouth draws other directors to Oklahoma, which recently increased its incentive package for filmmakers.

Schlei said the only issue with Oklahoma has been the need to bring in some crew members from out of state when more experienced workers were needed.

That problem can be fixed as more films are made in Oklahoma, Simpson said.

"It's always been a catch-22. You need the work to train the crew base. You need the crew base to attract the films," Simpson said. "It's two things that you're simultaneously trying to develop."

Eaton said Oklahoma's attractive incentives could steer some filmmakers away from neighboring New Mexico.

"The bottom line is, unfortunately, it's usually about money," Eaton said. "I think if the incentives are high enough that people will come here."


Oklahoma Film & Music Commission: