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Main Street Elburn readies itself for HBO shoot

Interested 'extras' can register now for role in coming series

Tim Darnell (right) and Brian Giddings (left) of Johnson Seat and Canvas in Cortland take down the awning outside the former Ream's Meat Market in downtown Elburn in preparation for filming for a television show pilot for HBO.
Tim Darnell (right) and Brian Giddings (left) of Johnson Seat and Canvas in Cortland take down the awning outside the former Ream's Meat Market in downtown Elburn in preparation for filming for a television show pilot for HBO.

​ELBURN - Elburn’s transformation into the 1950s town of Simmonsville for a pilot set to air on HBO sometime in the future is taking place the week of July 16-20 along Main Street. With the two days of filming July 25-26, only about a week away, construction workers are busy inside the former Ream’s Meat Market building, turning the former market into an old-fashioned diner where actors will play out their scene.

According to Random Productions, LLC Assistant Location Manager Kevin Dowling, the transformation should be complete by Friday, July 20.

Individuals interested in being considered for roles as “background artists,” or “extras,” should start by registering with the Chicago-based casting company, 4 Star Casting at Auditions take place in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

Based on a 2016 novel by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country is a story set in Jim Crow America that melds genres of historical fiction, horror and fantasy, Dowling explained. The series begins in Chicago, 1954, with an African American family on a search for one man’s missing father, in a road trip that ends in New England.

There will be a large African-American cast, Dowling said.

The scene that will be shot in Elburn begins with an old Studebaker traveling east on North Street and Route 47 near the Corner Grind, said Village President Jeff Walter. The car will drive north on Route 47, making a U-turn at the corner of Shannon and Main Street. The driver parks the car in front of Dave Rissman’s barber shop, and the people in the car enter the diner.

“They will change some stuff to make it period-correct,” said Rissman, “but it will remain a barber shop.”

According to Walter, before completing their meal, the diners rush out onto the street and get into their car. They turn into the alley, where a chase scene between a fire truck and the old Studebaker begins.

The action includes gunfire that shoots out a window in one of the vehicles and a near-miss with a hearse as the vehicles race past Conley’s Funeral Home, before racing north and up the hill on Route 47.

“Everything is going really well,” Walter said. “HBO has been easy to work with.”

About 40 members of the Elburn Chamber of Commerce had a chance on July 12 to hear more about the shoot from Dowling and his boss, Location Manager Wes Hagan, when the pair attended the monthly Chamber meeting at Walter’s invitation.

“It’s the buzz of the town,” Walter said. “The biggest question was about how to become an extra.”

In addition to awnings and temporary facades on storefronts that will reflect the times, Rissman said the old NAPA building will be made into a grocery store, and Walter said the Masonic Lodge will become a hardware store. The American Legion building basement will be used as a “green room” for the actors while they wait to play their roles.

“I think it’s kinda cool,” Rissman said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

The cast will eat their catered meals and have their make-up done in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center.

The crew will use the Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School parking lot, and there will be a shuttle to take people back and forth to the downtown area.

Ream’s Meat Market owner Randy Ream said the inside of his family’s former market building will look nothing like the old store. He said the construction workers are even creating a 1950’s restaurant kitchen and bathroom.

He said he is looking forward to the shoot. Although he is not interested in being considered for an “extra” part, he said his daughter is, and he wrote down the information to pass along to her.

During the two days of filming, people will be able to watch the action from various locations. The businesses will be open, and there will be local access, with production assistants on each corner directing people when they will need to stay out of the way for the actual filming. Vehicle traffic will be re-routed to Anderson Road from around the Main Street area.

“It’s wonderful,” Ream said. “I think it’s going to be fun.”