“So Cold The River” leads the way for Hoosier filmmaking

The hotel with tree limbs in the foreground.

It’s hard to describe just how grand this hotel is until you see it for yourself. | Photo by INDYtoday team

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The largest-scale Indiana production since “Rudy” in 1993, “So Cold the River” is a must-see thriller for Hoosiers — especially those with an eye on the state’s filmmaking future.

🎥 The movie

Although this particular film wasn’t made in the Circle City, it’s only a two-hour drive to the West Baden Springs Hotel, where the story is based + filmed. Your favorite INDYtoday City Editors were lucky enough to attend the movie’s premiere and boy do we have some inside scoops for you.

The author of the book the movie is based on, Michael Koryta said that he’d been going to the hotel since he was eight. He said it was “screaming ‘ghost story’” and he’d always wanted someone to shoot a film there — “which doesn’t happen a lot in Indiana.”

Though the spot is a bit remote (just ask the City Editors who drove through 30 minutes of winding countryside to get to it), it has a strong sense of community.

“When we did a callout [for extras] and had all those people respond… They sat here for 12 hours,” said founder + CEO of Pigasus Pictures Zachary Spicer. “All these people decked to the nines and not a single person complained. They were like, ‘this is so cool.’ [...] That’s what’s different about making movies here than making them in New York or California.”

That was echoed by Bethany Joy Lenz, who stars in the film. In response to my question about what it was like to film in Indiana, she said, “There’s a real sense of community and I love that.”

Bethany Joy Lenz sitting on a tub by the pool.

Watch the film to understand why Bethany is sitting on a tub by the pool. | Photo by INDYtoday team

🔮 The future

In a previous newsletter, we told you about the recently enacted media production tax credit + how it will attract more movie-making right here in Indy. In fact, Pigasus has a few other feature films that will be coming out soon. One was filmed in Indy, called “The Dueland we’ll tell you more about it as soon as we get the details.

Zachary said, “We’re trying to develop the next generation of filmmakers from people that are already here. That’s been the challenge of not having a tax credit. Because there’s not a robust industry here, everybody has to leave in order to find jobs. Now we have the opportunity of actually training people here, putting people to work here, and hiring an entire industry of Hoosiers to continue making this stuff, which is really really cool.”

Pigasus employed over 40 local Hoosiers to help with the production over the six weeks of filming and it has a partnership with IU where the school’s media students can work on set and get course credit.

With a model like this in place without the tax credit, who knows what kind of impact Indy can make in the film industry in the coming years?

You can see the movie now until Thurs., April 7 at Living Room Theatres + the Artcraft Theatre in Franklin on Thurs., March 31.