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How the Movie Magic Came Together at West Baden

still of So Cold The River Movie
West Baden Springs, Indiana. It’s quaint, it’s peaceful, it’s charming. But it isn’t exactly Hollywood. 

Filming a movie entirely in small-town Indiana — and in West Baden Springs Hotel’s spacious confines — came with its share of challenges. The upcoming movie So Cold the River, debuting soon on March 25, was an ambitious project involved plenty of creativity and problem-solving. More from the cast and crew on this unique project:

So Cold The River Movie Poster
Michael Koryta, Author and Executive Producer:

"This is an ambitious project. It really is. Shooting the movie, it's very easy to say, 'Well, it's a stunning place.' You have all these resources, but to shoot in this hotel is a great challenge. To shoot anywhere around here. We’re out shooting the river scenes, it's February, you don't know if you're going to get rain, snow, or it’s going to be sunny and 65. All of that creates an enormous challenge for the crew. They're trying to light night for day, and the cast and crew are living in this hotel and working vampire hours. And yet, it seems like everyone's really bought into what they're trying to do. And that, that's, that's really rewarding."






lead actress in So Cold The River


Madeline Kann, Cinematographer

"The funny thing about the project is we are either in a massive space or in a tiny space, never normal spaces. Every single day was extremely challenging. It became a running joke of, 'Wow, today is the hardest day,' but it's just, it's just a day, a day in the life on this movie. The only day that was normal was our last day of shooting, which was in a hospital and it was just kind of a normal room. But every other day was something crazy going on. Even something simple like Erica (the main character's) hotel room was actually very difficult because we were not shooting on a sound stage and we were shooting on location (in tight quarters). That was a surprisingly hard room."

lead actress on So Cold the River

More from Madeline on the custom camera lenses that were created to capture the "Pluto bottle" effect:

“I collaborated with Panovision to design lenses that specifically would push the blur in ways that I wanted that I hadn't seen before, because I wanted to create a spectrum of surrealism of the blur throughout the movie. I used certain lenses for the past. I built this look called ‘bottle vision’ because I was really excited about the idea of a water bottle as a villain. I collaborated a lot with props to design this bottle that would have warpy, weird glass because that justified me being able to design lenses with this bottle vision effect to make it feel like we were looking through a water bottle when remembering the past, because Erica (the main character) is haunted by this water that she drinks. So I, I wanted to visualize the idea that she drinks the water and then gets sucked into bottle vision to see the past. And then I created subtler versions of that when she's just subtly tripping out from the water, but not actually accessing the past.”

 Lara de Bruijn, Costume Designer:

“(Shooting at West Baden Springs Hotel) infuses something that you don't get on a sound stage. There is a soul and a breath and a vibration in a place that is real, that you don't get when you just like build a little box. It's a powerful environment to be in. The echo in the space that you get, you can't create in a box. The light effect when you have a dome that's over you that has sunlight coming through it at all hours; you can't make that up in a box. It gives an energy. That has been pretty extraordinary, and you don't often get that opportunity.”

so cold the river movie shot

Dana Mroczek, Sound Mixer

"It’s definitely been difficult for me, for audio. You know, we're filming in a pool that's very echoey. This atrium is just crazy. We had to change a little bit of shots for audio, where originally some of the shots were dead center in that atrium and that is just like the pinnacle of all the sound. Just 10 feet in any direction completely changes it acoustically. So we had to change it, move it off a little bit. There's a lobby scene where carpets were taken out and all the furniture removed and it made significantly more echoey and reflective. So we need to kind of compromise with props in our department and cinematographer to add the carpet back in, which helped treat the room a little bit."

Bethany Joy Lenz, Actress

Bethany behind the scenes of so cold the river

"It's ambitious to do anything when you are bringing a film crew to a place where there's not a film community. You know, they don't have trailers for hair and makeup or for actors, so they have to partner with an RV company. One of our producers, Zack (Spicer), he's just one of those guys that's like MacGyver — whatever the problem is, there is a solution and I will figure it out. And that's a really handy quality to have when you're in production and you want to build from the ground up from a place like Indiana, and he wants to invest in a community here and raise up young artists and invest in them. And there's a lot crew members and people he brought in from Ohio and people he'd known from his hometown and things like that. 

It's also ambitious to shut down a high-functioning hotel for two weeks. The fact that we were allowed to do that, that Cook allowed us to close this place down so that we can just invade it in every sense of the word, and bring it to life in a way that's never been seen before. That's really exciting to me, too, because nobody has ever done this."

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