More Hollywood in Columbus

Here are some more tidbits of information I have received about the filming of “Public Enemies” in Columbus. I don’t have proof on all of them, but most of them are pretty reliable.

At the bottom of this post, you will find a link to a website that a fellow Columbian (what do you call someone who lives in Columbus, WI?) has put together. Check there for more awesome information about the movie and Columbus’ transformation back to the 1930’s.

  • Filming of “Public Enemies,” starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, and directed by Micheal Mann, is (tentatively) scheduled to take place in Columbus on March 17, backup March 18.
  • Columbus downtown is “closed” March 10 – 20 because the traffic signals will be removed. Because of this removal, highway truck traffic has to be rerouted, and therefore, the downtown is closed for major traffic. A person (or crew) will be holding stop signs, and helping to direct traffic during non-filming times.
  • Columbus snow is not good enough. It looks too fake. The filming company (Universal Studois) is bringing in their own fake snow. It is environmentally friendly, and will dissolve when it comes in contact with water.
  • In town will be 150 extras for filming, 250 workers and such. Staging will occur in the Fireman’s pavillion. Auditions are still occurring (Producers will hold auditions Friday night (March 7) from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee), so you have a chance to get in the movie.
  • Antique cars will be “dirtied up” in the bus barn, and then hauled downtown for filming.
  • A consulting firm was hired to go through the whole Midwest to find cities for filming. People actually drove through every possible city, taking pictures and writing reports.
  • Columbus was first contacted as a potential site in November, 2007. The city kept it a secret until late February. After initial contact, the mayor had not heard from the filming company for a while, so it was figured Columbus was passed-up. But reviewing city web site hits revealed that over half of the December 2007 hits were from California, a sign that things might turn out.
  • Michael Mann, the director, came through town, and could immediately see the scenes. He told the driver to pull over, at which point he got out, and walked around the four corners several times. He would stop in the middle of the street, and the traffic had to drive around him (no police escorts or anything, just a guy in the street). The story goes that he asked to see the pictures they brought from Ann Arbor, Michigan (another possible filming site) and threw out Ann Arbor on the spot, as well as other cities.
  • Baraboo was supposedly the original filming site. But when the news got out before Michael Mann even got to town, Baraboo was dropped.
  • The City of Columbus is not being paid, but the local businesses are. Besides buildings and stores that will actually appear in the movie, the production crew has said they will do their best to support local restaurants, gas stations, hotels, antique stores, hardware stores, etc.
  • Filming may also take place on Prairie Street, one block away and parallel to Harrison Street (where the Tadych’s live).
  • The Filming company took pictures and measurements of the current buildings. They also used historic pictures of several buildings. With these items together, they created architectural drawings and models of what they are now turning the downtown area into.
  • For all the building changes occurring, it is up to the private business owners if they want to keep the changes to their establishments (like 1930’s period awnings, window changes, signs, etc.). An on-site project manager will not leave the area until affected businesses and properties sign off that they are satisfied that things are back to their original look, or they will be keeping the look done for the movie.
  • Because the workers are union, they have in their contract that an ambulance and crew must always be present. The local ambulance service will be reimbursed appropriately, including overtime pay.
  • Original talk was that a rubber cobblestone carpet would be laid on the streets. It now sounds like this may not happen, and the filming company is looking at alternatives.
  • Check out this site for pictures, and up-to-date tidbits: Public Enemies – Columbus
Categorized as Troy


  1. Our Columbus Main Street website also has some pictures and info, not only about the movie, but about our GREAT town, too.
    Kim Bates- Columbus Main Street Ex. Director

  2. Hi Kim,

    thanx for the comment. I edited it slightly to fix the link, and to include it in the body of the comment. your website is great! thanx for the great information.

  3. Do you know if there hiring local people to work on production? Is there somewhere to find info on this or someone who might know?


  4. Hey Jamie —

    I think I read in the newspaper, perhaps the Columbus paper this past weekend, that a crew from Madison is working on the pre- and post- construction efforts.

    But that is the most that I know. I would assume that the filming crew is directly from “hollywood.”

    And unfortunately, I have no idea where to even start looking to get information. You may want to try other sites or blogs about PE in Columbus (sorry if I am sending you in a circle!).

    Good luck with your information searching.

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