When Academy Award winning director Taylor Hackford’s latest action thriller, “Parker,” opens next Friday, moviegoers throughout the nation will become familiar with the Ohio State Fair.
In the months leading up to the 2011 Ohio State Fair, a representative from the film reached out to administrators of the Ohio Expo Center, making plans for a small crew to come and film atmospheric footage during the Fair to blend with scenes shot in professional studios in New Orleans. However, as discussions continued, the project expanded in scope and the director, producer and several of the stars traveled to Ohio to film scenes while the Fair was underway.
That August, as fairgoers enjoyed lemon shake-ups and rides down the Giant Slide, a film crew and prominent actors including Jason Statham descended upon the Ohio State Fair, spending two days shooting a variety of scenes which now make up the movie’s opening segment. Scripted scenes performed by professional actors are coupled with footage of real Ohioans enjoying various aspects of the Fair, such as livestock shows, the daily parade, Midway rides and concerts by the 200 youth members of the All-Ohio State Fair Band.
The film is an adaptation of Donald Westlake’s novel “Flashfire,” which follows professional thief Parker (Statham) while he travels the country in a fast-paced series of schemes and robberies, starting with a robbery at the State Fair.
“We were surprised when the director told us that the premise is to rob the Fair,” explained Fair General Manager Virgil Strickler. “For the safety of all those involved, the crew ended up staging the break-in from an exterior entrance to the Dairy Products Building, home to the butter cow and calf, and created the interior money room environment in a studio.”
The feature film also stars Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce and Nick Nolte, and is produced by Stratton Leopold. While the cast and crew were here shooting, an estimated $1.3 million dollars were spent in Ohio.
“Seeing the Ohio State Fair on the big screen will be exciting for all Ohioans,” said Christiane Schmenk, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “In-state filming brings jobs, commerce and business opportunities. Ohio continues to stand out to the film industry due to our numerous shooting locations and talented workforce.”
During the filming, local production house Mills James provided a total of 20 personnel in the areas of coordinators, art/scenic design, grip, special effects, craft service and first- and second-unit production assistants.
“Hollywood directors are realizing the benefits of shooting on location in Ohio, and it’s often easier to connect with local production companies like Mills James for staffing support and equipment than to travel crews and gear from California,” said RJ Cavallaro, a Mills James producer who coordinated the firm’s involvement in the shooting of “Parker.” “They were relieved to learn that we could coordinate their on-location needs, and we were able to provide production coordinators, grips, and art assistants, as well as grip trucks and gear.”
The Ohio Expo Center is proud to host the Ohio State Fair. With a spectacular midway, big-name entertainment, hundreds of exhibits and one of the largest junior fair shows in the nation, the 2013 Ohio State Fair will run July 24 – August 4. In 2012, 840,306 people attended the Ohio State Fair.
Here is the trailer for Parker. Viewer discretion as this movie is rated R.