Stamped by the New York Times as “probably the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years,” AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, written by Oklahoma native Tracy Letts, has won five Tony awards including Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008.
I’m thrilled that AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY will be filming in the county that inspired the Pulitzer play, and which the film screenplay has also been based on. Filming will be at locations in bothOsage and Washington counties in Northeastern Oklahoma. The authenticity of locations will be a huge asset to the production which will begin principal photography in the area on September 24.
The story of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY revolves around the dysfunctional Weston family whose members gather at their Osage County family home after their patriarch’s disappearance. Directed by John Wells (The Company Men, ER) and produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Jean Doumanian and Steve Traxler, the cast is also equally impressive. It includes two well-loved Oscar-winning actresses Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, along with Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Definitely, Maybe, New Year’s Eve), Dermot Mulroney, and many others.
“After seeing Meryl Streep’s mesmerizing portrayal as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it has me even more excited and proud to co-star with her,” says Julia Roberts.
Last Saturday, over 4000 hopeful Tulsa citizens lined up at the Tulsa Promenade mall for a chance to be extras in the movie. The odds of being picked are “probably about 1,000 to 1, but that’s the chance you take,” says Suzi Watson, the 1,000th person to go through the brief evaluation process. If chosen, they may be called on to come to work with as little as 24 to 48 hours’ notice. Filming will be from Mondays through Fridays only, no weekends.
A HISTORIC FILMING LOCATION: THE BOULANGER HOME
One of the film locations of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is the hundred-year-old Boulanger home, located on 22 acres in Boulanger north of Pawhuska. The ten-room Sears, Roebuck and Company house was built in the 1910’s for the town’s founder and his wife, Isaac Walter and Grace Boulanger. In addition to the large historic house, the property also includes several barns and ponds. Construction cost for the house was around $5,000. August OC Film bought it recently for $250,000.
As to its history, the house belongs for many years to the Boulanger family before it became a bed and breakfast in 2000. Once the location scout for the production saw the house, it was not long before an offer was on the table to buy it.
“This is one of those homes that you walk in and it’s just amazing. The feel is so welcoming,” said Natascha Holloway, a real estate agent for United Country Shaw Real Estate, the company that helped sell the house to the movie production. “There’s a lot of natural light that comes in through that house and it’s just great to be on the grounds because it is amazing and of course you’re surrounded by country side.” Rumor has it the realtors have already found another buyer for the house once the movie is complete.
FILMING IN OKLAHOMA
Not only will filming AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY in Oklahoma add to the authenticity of the movie, it is also an economically-sound decision for the production to shoot in the state. “It is a great honor to be filming in such a scenic and culturally expansive state,” said Dylan Sellers, President of Production of The Weinstein Company (The Artist, The King’s Speech). “AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY would not be possible without the generous support from the people of Oklahoma.”
The feeling is mutual from both sides, of course. Oklahoma is equally excited to have the movie filming in the state. “We are obviously ecstatic to have a production of this stature filming in our state,” says Jill Simpson, director of the Film & Music Office. “They don’t come any better than this script, stellar cast, director and stable of producers. Securing AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY was a team effort spanning a couple of years. We are especially grateful for the efforts made by our industry partners at the Bartlesville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce.”
Having productions filming in the state means a huge boost to the state’s economy and tourism. “Due to the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program, the state’s film industry has experienced documented growth which translates into a positive economic impact,” said Deby Snodgrass, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “Total jobs created just by films in the enhancement program more than tripled from fiscal year 2010 to 2012, and the economic impact of production statewide in FY11 topped $36 million. A project with the stature of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is a positive for our state, its film industry and the economies of many communities.”
TERENCE MALICK’S "TO THE WONDER" ALSO FILMED IN OSAGE COUNTY
The growth mentioned above includes another featured film made in Osage County in 2010,Terrence Malick’s romantic drama To The Wonder, starring Rachel Weisz, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Amanda Peet.
With the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program under its wings, To The Wonder was filmed in the fall of 2010 and early 2011 around the Bartlesville, Pawhuska areas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was also filmed in Paris, France.
Terence Malick, the director and writer of To The Wonder, also spent many years of his youth in Bartlesville, where to this day his father still resides.
To The Wonder will have its world premiere on September 2, 2012, at the 69th Venice Film Festival (August 29 - September 8, 2012) on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy.
THE OKLAHOMA FILM & MUSIC OFFICE
With one of the most generous rebate program for productions filming in the state - up to 37% cash rebate - The Oklahoma Film & Music Office works tirelessly to attract film, television, video, and music industries to Oklahoma.
The Film & Music Office also provides continuing support to filmmakers. Its mission statement - proudly stated on the film office’s website - speaks volume:
The Oklahoma Film & Music Office offers the following services free of charge:
- Preliminary research, scouting, and evaluation of locations
- Use of location library and production resource information files
- Photographs shot to match individual specifications
- Detailed information on state and local film regulations
- Accompanying filmmakers to locations
- Arrangement of clearances
- Liaison service for your production by offering assistance with federal, state, and local officials, institutions, businesses, and individuals
- Liaison with the hotel/motel/restaurant industries
- Liaison with local meteorologists to obtain up-to-date weather information
- Access to media representatives
- Support and assistance throughout production
For more information, check out the Oklahoma Film & Music Office’s website atwww.oklahomafilm.org.