By Valerie Morris
Page Layout Editor
The Stocker Center Film Series featured a special evening Feb. 10 with the film ‘Take Shelter’ followed by a discussion with LCCC graduate Timothy Johnson, who was first assistant director for the film.The film, starring Michael Shannon as a husband and father obsessed with a dreamed approaching storm, and Jessica Chastain as his wife, who tries to understand his irrational need to build a fortified storm cellar at the risk of their financial and mental security.
The film was shot largely in Lorain County during the June and July 2010. Many familiar buildings and landmarks can be spotted, peppered throughout the film. In one scene, the Elyria Public Library makes a cameo, as does the now-closed Dave’s Army and Navy store in Oberlin.
“This (scene) was the very first day of shooting. It brings a tear to my eye, because I found out that they were not able to remain open, they closed a few months after we shot. It breaks my heart that the Army-Navy store went out of business, but it’s kind of immortalized by our shooting there,” said Johnson.
A former LCCC student, Johnson graduated in 1991 with his associate of arts. He went on to New York University where he received his bachelor’s degree. Since then, Johnson worked on films in any capacity he could, from production assistant to set decorator, a role he served during the Avengers filming that took place in Cleveland last summer.
Being back in Lorain County to shoot Take Shelter had its surreal moments for Johnson. “If somebody said this was a dream come true, I would say ‘no, it really wasn’t.’ Because I would have never even conceived in 1991 that a feature film would come and shoot in my home county and my hometown, shooting scenes in my original high school building,” said Johnson.
The film was originally written to take place against the flat, sweeping scenery of Arkansas, where writer Jeff Nichols was from. Much of the decision to shoot in Lorain County came from the suggestions of Chagrin Falls native Tyler Davidson, the producer.
“It was really his determination to shoot this movie here in Ohio,” said Johnson. “Tyler said ‘look, they have this new tax credit in Ohio. I can show you where it’s flat and wide and just like Arkansas.’ Jeff was skeptical at first, but they came and after driving around for a while, Jeff was sold.”
According to Johnson, an added benefit to shooting in Ohio was the climate. “What Jeff didn’t know, and it’s something we’re all familiar with, is the fact that Ohio weather changes every 35 seconds,” said Johnson with a laugh. “Normally productions have to shut down, but for us it was like: how convenient!”
Johnson shared many of his memories working on the set and in the area. “Our location manager Matt Cahill spent a lot of time trying to find locations that were close to one another. We shot this movie in 24 days. It’s really difficult when you have to literally move the entire company to two and three locations,” said Johnson