Christian Slater and 'Freaky Deaky' All the Buzz in Rochester on Friday
Fourth Street was the star of the scene for Elmore Leonard film.
They came to downtown Rochester on Thursday, bringing trucks and trailers and movie cameras and lights and rumors of big name stars.
Soon after, some crew members wandered into Downtown Booksellers and bought the book that confirmed what they were up to.
The book, said shop owner Sally Banwarth, was Freaky Deaky, a 1988 Elmore Leonard novel set in the 60s and 70s and based in Detroit.
Over the next 24 hours, Rochester would be the setting for at least part of the book's jump to the big screen.
The guy under the hat
But it was another leading guy who would appear from underneath long curls and a cowboy hat in the scene filmed late Friday night on Fourth Street.
Christian Slater, whose role in the 1980s cult film Heathers grouped him in with the Hollywood bad boys, was the star of the scenes shot Friday in and around Lytle Pharmacy downtown.
About 100 people gathered around the Fourth Street set for hours on Friday night. The first scene ended around 11 p.m. and involved Slater rushing into a red Volkswagen Beetle with several square boxes clutched to his chest.
After, a director shouted "Good job!" and Slater took a break to pose with several bystanders.
Not long after, Twitter started to react to the movie-making frenzy.
"Just watched a movie get filmed and got a picture with Christian Slater," tweeted @sabrinanicole11.
"Just met Christian Slater and shook his hand filming #freakydeaky Rochester Michigan ... He is too cool," tweeted @CagedCupcake.
'A film for Detroit'
The film is under the direction of Charlie Matthau, who said last fall it would be made entirely in Michigan, where Leonard lives.
"We originally changed the locale to LA, but I knew it wouldn't be as good as if it were set in Detroit," Matthau said in a statement reported on Birmingham Patch during the Elmore Leonard Film Festival in November.
"Freaky Deaky can turn into a monument in Detroit, just like Woody Allen's Manhattan is for New York … If ever there was a film for Detroit, it's Freaky Deaky."
Freaky Deaky is set in the 1970s. To look the part, downtown Rochester needed a few four-wheeled props.
Bill Stanley lent his 1973 black Cadillac El Dorado to the film crew for the day.
The car collector and Rochester resident said he was excited for his car to have a part in the film.
"It is fun," Stanley said. "It is the first time I have ever done it."
Bob Hughes of Macomb Township is also a collector of classic cars, and in his opinion, the crew did a nice job mixing different kinds of vehicles from the time period to make the scene look realistic.
"You want to have a wide mix," he said. "If all you have is show cars, it won't work."
Hughes has two vehicles in the movie: a 1968 GT convertible and a red 1973 Monte Carlo. He heard about the car casting from a friend and decided to get involved.
Hughes said the crew was looking for a variety of cars from 1968 to 1973 and added that he is getting paid for it, though he didn't want to say how much.
"The money don't compensate for the time involved, but I think it is more the experience on how they are making the movie," said Hughes, who took a vacation day from work to attend the filming in Rochester.
"It's for bragging rights."
Teri Fowler of Holly also lent her car for the Friday shoot.
"And now my car is a movie star!" she said.
Fowler said movie producers told her to show up at 3:30 p.m. with her car and not to wash it — that it would get messy. She said they invited her to dine with some of the crew and cast at 9 p.m. — for a meal they called "lunch," she said.
Rochester no stranger to movies
Last year, Rochester was abuzz with star-sightings when the cast of A Reasonable Bunch, which starred Demi Moore, filmed for several consecutive days downtown.
Another movie, Amendment, was filmed last year at Knapp's Dairy Bar and other Rochester locations.
And Rochester has been the scene of many commercials in the past couple years.
"It adds a lot to the local businesses in the area," said Marion Tobkin, owner of @ Home Furniture, who added that movie cast and crews often stay at Rochester's Royal Park Hotel while filming in the Detroit area.
Optimism around the set
Phil Borchard of Rochester Hills heard a movie was being filmed nearby while eating at Sumo Sushi & Seafood, a block away from the set. Like others out and about on Friday, he wandered toward the set after dinner to see for himself.
Borchard said he loves the idea of Hollywood making movies starring
As he and his wife, Sandy, stood in the crowd, watching dozens of film crew operating heavy, unrecognizable pieces of film equipment, they reflected on the importance of keeping the film industry in the state.
"I heard the governor is going to put a kibosh on it," said Sandy Borchard, refering to cutbacks in the state's film tax incentive program.
"Look at all the people here. We could have built up a job base to do this."
Phil Borchard agreed that the scene that unfolded in downtown Rochester on Friday night was indicative of optimism around Detroit.
"I think we are coming back," he said. "We're making cars again,
making money again and this can help."