Column: Fifth & Madison Movie Production

"Betty Anne Waters" shoots on Fifth Street
traffic control cone

Pedestrian traffic control cone, movie-set style.

The movie “Betty Anne Waters” has widely been reported to tell the true story of a woman who puts herself through law school to prove the innocence of her brother, who’s been wrongly convicted of murder – hence the name of the local company formed to produce the move, Innocence Productions.

But based on the one scene The Chronicle saw filmed Thursday morning, this movie might just be about football. The evidence, which I humbly submit for our readers’ consideration, is a shot in which a young boy stands in the front yard of a house, waves towards it and says, “Mom, let’s go, we’re going to miss the kickoff!” That suggests, but does not entail, that the kid is talking about football –  technically, “kickoff” could apply to the start of any event. But then, a football comes flying from somewhere and seems to get fumbled. Whether that’s a part of the script was not clear. At any rate, there’s a football in this movie.

Ladies and gentlemen of the reading jury, I thus offer an alternate version of events: “Betty Anne Waters” could be a movie about football. We have not been able to confirm that the movie’s complete name, including the tag line, is “Betty Anne Waters – The defense rests its case.” But that would sure make it sound a little bit more like a football movie, if it were true.

sidewalk closed due to movie set

The ladder and light behind the pedestrian traffic control cone were a part of the setup for the movie scene.

We were first alerted to something out of the ordinary around Fifth & Madison streets in a email sent early Thursday morning from a reader who entertained suspicions that the shiny new semi-tractor trailers were connected to a Men-in-Black type operation.

Having stopped by the area while out and about later that morning, we returned to Chronicle Central to see that a Stopped.Watched. correspondent had confirmed the filming as well.

Folks who live in the neighborhood seemed to be taking the filming in stride. Sunny Sedgwick, a name that has a certain movie-star sound to it, is actually a puppy in the shape of a full-grown dog, who was getting walked by Martha Kinney-Sedgwick. The route past the movie location is one of a few different standard walks, she said, but when cross-examined, she allowed that the choice that morning was due in part to some curiosity about what was going on.

One nearby homeowner was waiting for a city building inspector, who appeared and did his inspection of the three-unit dwelling saying, “This is a nice old house and we want to keep it that way!”

Ward 5 councilmember Mike Anglin walked past. He had a clipboard and papers, which suggested to me he might be collecting signatures for his nomination petitions for re-election.

But he said that he was just going to meet with some neighbors who live in a house on the same block as the movie location. In the brief conversation with some of the set workers that we were having, one of them suggested that the paint job on the house might have been “set-decked” i.e., altered by the set decoration crew. Anglin (who lives just down the street) said, “No, it’s always looked like that.”

Mike Anglin Movie

Mike Anglin walks past the movie set near Madison & Fifth streets.

Anglin also put in a plug for Knight’s Restaurant, encouraging the workers to try it before leaving town.

There’s still filming to be done, at least in the surrounding area. According to the minutes of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, there’ll be a shoot up by the Livingston County “historical courthouse and its interior doorways” in early April.

The movie includes Hilary Swank in its cast. The mission of determining what flavor of cake is Hilary Swank’s favorite was not completed Thursday morning, however. When I checked in at the nearby Jefferson Market & Cakery to see if owner Mary Rasmussen had waited on any movie stars, she said, “I don’t really know – they look just like us!”