Get insider look at 'August: Osage County' film produced in Oklahoma
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Friday, September 21, 2012
9/21/12 at 4:27 AM
Read the Tulsa World’s
continuing coverage of the filming of “August: Osage County.”
"August: Osage County" moves next week from the pre-production stage to the actual filming of actors and dialogue in northeastern Oklahoma. Tracy Letts' play, one of the most decorated dramas in the history of the American stage, has attracted a cast full of award-winners and nominees.
Before Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and others go to work in Osage and Washington counties, there are a few questions, and we have a few answers.
How important was the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate in attracting "August: Osage County" to shoot in Oklahoma?
Important to the extent of more than $5 million going back to the production in the form of tax rebates. According to Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, the state offers up to 37 percent on Oklahoma expenditures to qualifying companies filming in the state, with the rebate capped at $5 million per year.
The Weinstein Co. picture - which is being produced by George Clooney's production company, among others - is anticipating spending $14.9 million in Oklahoma during filming, Simpson said. A production company official recently noted that they have rented more than 30 homes in the area for cast and some crew to live in during filming, along with an anticipated 5,000 hotel-room nights.
That $14.9 million expenditure means an anticipated payout of roughly $5.5 million spanning two fiscal years, Simpson said, due to the $5 million per-year cap on the program.
"The program has a rolling cap allowing for funds to come from two fiscal years pursuant to the availability of rebate funds," she said.
How important was filming the picture in its place of origin?
A production of this type always shops around to find the best fit, and Oklahoma was in the mix from the beginning, along with Louisiana, Georgia and the state of New York, according to Celia Costas, an executive producer who spoke during a presentation to the city council in Bartlesville.
"It wasn't until I flew over Osage County and saw it that I said, 'You know, there is a reason we are in this place,' " Costas told the crowd. Location, the tax rebate, finding the right house for filming - it all added up to shooting in Osage County.
When does the filming of "August: Osage County" begin?
There has already been incidental filming of roads and exteriors, and such "pickup" shots will continue after the actors leave. But principal photography with part of the cast begins on Monday in Bartlesville, with shooting scheduled to last eight weeks.
Where will the filming take place?
Probably about 80 percent of the movie will be shot inside the Boulanger house, which is a three-story structure in far northern Osage County, said Wendi Laski, the unit publicist for the film. The production company bought the residence near the former townsite of Boulanger. Like the house in Tulsa-native Tracy Letts' play, it has two main floors topped by a large attic considered to be a third floor.
The remainder of shooting will take place in the outdoors in Pawhuska (downtown, at an area lake and at the county fairgrounds), Bartlesville and Barnsdall.
Where did the title of "August: Osage County" originate?
The answer can be found in Letts' dedication at the beginning of his play's script.
"I could never come up with a title as brilliant as 'August: Osage County.' Mr. Howard Starks, gentleman, teacher, poet, genius, mentor, friend, created that title for an extraordinary poem that is one of the inspirations for my play. I steal the title with deference, yet without apology - Howard, I'm sure, would have it no other way - and I dedicate this play to his memory."
Starks, who died in 2003, taught at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, where Letts graduated from high school. Starks taught with and was close friends with Dennis Letts, the playwright's father.
The setting for the play "August: Osage County" is Pawhuska, the county seat of Osage County, in August 2007.
How many extras are going to be used in filming the movie?
"Maybe a couple of hundred," Laski said. She could not elaborate on what will be asked of those who are selected from among the more than 6,000 people who lined up at a pair of "calls for extras" at Tulsa Promenade and later in Bartlesville, all seeking their shot at a small amount of fame.
What awards did the play win?
"August: Osage County" won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2008 after it won five Tony Awards: best play (which went to Letts as the playwright); best actress in a leading role (Deanna Dunagan as Violet Weston); best actress in a featured role (Rondi Reed as Mattie Fae Aiken, Violet's sister); best direction (Anna D. Shapiro); and best scenic design of a play.
How many awards have the cast and crew won?
Meryl Streep (top, left) has won three Academy Awards and been nominated for 14 others. The other Oscar winners in the cast are Julia Roberts (top, right) - best actress for "Erin Brockovich" and two other nominations - and Chris Cooper (bottom, left) - best supporting actor for "Adaptation."
Past Oscar nominees in the cast include Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), Juliette Lewis ("Cape Fear") and Sam Shepard ("The Right Stuff").
Cast members Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney and Misty Upham have all received acclaim for past performances.
As for the producers, George Clooney (bottom, right) has won an Oscar (best supporting actor in "Syriana") and been nominated three times for best actor, twice for best screenplay, and once for best director.
The production company owned by Harvey Weinstein (bottom, center) has distributed the last two best picture winners - "The King's Speech" and "The Artist" - and he will surely see this picture as a future candidate for awards, possibly in 2013.
How does the star power of this picture's cast compare to 'The Outsiders' filming in 1982?
It was 30 years ago that Tulsa welcomed director Francis Ford Coppola and young actors including C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and future Oscar-nominees Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon and Diane Lane to film an adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel.
The question of star power at the time of filming goes to "August: Osage County" for its established stars; "The Outsiders" cast was one that drove the young women wild, but the actors' biggest hits were ahead of them.
In that regard, "August: Osage County" gets the edge as to prestige (all those awards), though "The Outsiders" in hindsight is a cast with all those box-office smashes: "E.T.," "The Karate Kid," "Dirty Dancing," "Top Gun" and "The Breakfast Club" were all 1980s decade-defining hits.
This just in: George Clooney eats
A Bartlesville eatery played host on Wednesday night to George Clooney, one of the producers of "August: Osage County," the star-studded movie about to begin filming in the Pawhuska and Bartlesville areas.
It was Frank & Lola's Neighborhood Restaurant & Bar, often noted as one of the best places to dine in the city. At least that's what one of our Facebook friends told us who also ate there Wednesday.
I'll be surprised if many out there don't hear similar stories from friends in the near future, now that the cast and producers are joining crew members who have already been working in the Osage County and Washington County areas in recent weeks.
Did George have the green chili? Or the cheeseburger? Or perhaps one of the green chili cheeseburgers that induce raves at Frank & Lola's?
Is George a good tipper, of the 20 percent variety, or something less or more?
These details are unknown, but I'm told that "people want to know these kinds of things." So there you have what is known.
For more from Michael Smith's "I See Movies for Free" blog, go to tulsaworld.com/iseemovies
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Original Print Headline: On set in Oklahoma
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
michael.smith @tulsaworld.com World Correspondent Laura Summers contributed to this story.
It's estimated about 80 percent of "August: Osage County" will be shot inside this house near Pawhuska. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
The Triangle Building in downtown Pawhuska will become a bus stop for film scenes in "August: Osage County." MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Potential extras for the motion picture "August: Osage County" wait in line at Tulsa Promenade in August to turn in their information sheets and get their photographs taken. More than 4,200 hopefuls came to the call. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World