A commercial for a major brand of beer was filmed in Forest Park on June 11. The shoot focused on the 400 block of Thomas and the crew used several houses as backdrops. According to Daniel Marcus, location manager for the film production company STORY, it was one of the first commercials shot on location in Illinois since the start of the pandemic.

Marcus, a Forest Park resident, looked at multiple villages, before settling on his hometown. He was looking for “everyday Americana” and Forest Park fit the bill. “We looked at several blocks but this one ticked all the boxes.” He encouraged the producer and director to film here. “Everyone was happy with Forest Park,” Marcus said, “We received good cooperation from the village.”

The company would normally use a 50-person crew for a shoot like this but they went with a 10-person crew to reduce the risk of coronavirus. The crew adhered to CDC standards. Everyone wore masks and gloves and practiced social distancing. They parked their trucks in Constitution Court and started the shoot at 6 a.m. They didn’t finish until 6 p.m.

“We wanted to showcase the variety of architecture in Forest Park,” Marcus said. “We got great feedback from residents and the crew. They found Forest Park to be very photogenic. They also spent money at several local businesses.”

Al and Terri Mollson were among the residents who allowed the crew to film their property. They had purchased the home at 423 Thomas four years ago. It was a two-flat, which they converted into a single-family home. They did a complete renovation and also beautified their front yard. Being stuck working from home, they have devoted hours to landscaping. This involved spending money at local garden centers like McAdam, where they purchased plants and trees.

They had just finished mulching when they spotted a scout taking photos up and down the block. He asked to film the front of their home. The police blocked off the street and residents came out to watch but they were careful not to be in the shoot. The residents were cooperative and so was the weather. “It was a mild, breezy pretty day,” Terri recalled.

The Mollsons believe there should be more filming done here. “We love the neighborhood,” Terri said, “And we take pride in our property.” They have made friends on the block and are encouraging their city friends to move to the village. The Mollsons came here from Humboldt Park but Al has deep roots in Forest Park. His mother was raised here and he was baptized at St. Bernardine’s.

Their neighbor to the south, Nancy Woulfe, also gave permission for her property to be filmed. She moved here six years ago and also did a major renovation. Woulfe is passionate about gardening, too. She was home the day of the shoot and observed the crew practicing social distancing.

“The crew wore masks and they rotated crew members. Everyone was very responsible,” she said, adding that she watched the crew working tirelessly, filming take after take. “The commercial was kind of fun,” Woulfe recalled. 

As Marcus said, Forest Park is a good stand-in for “Anytown, USA.”

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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