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'Whelm' begins filming this week

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

Starting Monday, Wabash County will be the host of a new feature film.

Southwood graduate Skyler Lawson returned home recently to film his newest independent movie “Whelm.” 

The film follows the story of a family caught between a legendary bank robber and his rival, set in 1933. All but one scene will be filmed in Wabash County, while the other will be filmed at Baker Street Station in Fort Wayne.

“I grew up on a farm, so there’s a lot of land that’s been in the family for a long time and it’s something I looked forward to in featuring that on the world stage,” Lawson said.

Crews will be out at the Charley Creek Inn, on Market Street and in rural parts of the county throughout October. 

Market Street will be closed between Wabash and Miami streets from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Oct. 13 while crews are filming. Crews will move inside the Charley Creek Inn later in the week.

Downtown Wabash is an ideal location for the film because it already captures the 1930s aesthetic.

“We just roll the modern trash cans out of the way and replace them with our own old trash cans, we hide any logos that aren’t of the era,” he said. “Wabash is pretty fit for it.”

In fact, Lawson had Wabash in mind while he was writing “Whelm.”

“I didn’t want to go to French Lick or somewhere else, or any other state,” Lawson said. “They get ... featured all the time. Wabash hasn’t been featured in this light to my knowledge for quite some time...it’s a beautiful town and it always has been and it always deserves the attention.

“Anything I can do to help that effort, I’m well in mind to do (so).”

Lawson is the film’s writer, director and producer. While he said he will be incredibly busy, he said it is important to him to have the personal touch of having his cast get immersed in the culture of the area, as well as being able to personally thank anyone who helps him.

Much is still undetermined when it comes to post-production. Lawson plans to show the film at popular film festivals like Sundance and Toronto. And he plans to sell the film to a distributor so that it can be shown in theaters or via streaming services. But one thing he is certain of is that “Whelm” will be screened at the Eagles Theatre once it reopens.

“I think that’s something that I immediately thought would be a nice gesture and would be just right for the feeling and spirit of the project,” he said,” to be right across the street from Charley Creek where we filmed it in that amazing theater where I grew up watching movies in.”