White Lake has its share of spooky locations.
But it also has its beauty. And those are the two elements that attracted the location manager firm for the upcoming feature film The Wicked to suggest that most of the movie be filmed within the township’s borders.
The horror/mystery film is being edited and is scheduled for release in September, with sales agents looking to find a studio to distribute the film, according to Michigan resident and producer Marvin Townes Jr.
Townes said he has been a part of 58 films, like The Blues Brothers and Bad Boys, along with many independents through the years and has partnered with producer Couni Young on The Wicked, which was shot in 20 days.
“About 90 percent of our crew is from Michigan, and we took 10 fewer days to film it than it would have normally took,” Townes said.
White Lake, along with the nearby communities of Commerce Township and Clarkston, played a major role in the film, said Young, a Commerce Township resident who was highly complimentary of White Lake businesses and public safety agencies.
The loaned the producers their vehicles to use in the movie, although the rural city is named “Bogie Lake” in the film, said Young, who also works part time in the winter as a ski patrol officer at Alpine Valley.
Although Young has served as a costume designer in 7 films prior to this one, including American Virgin and the Butterfly Effect 3, The Wicked marks her production debut.
“I wanted to have more control over a movie, so I partnered with (Townes), and we helped to get some funding,” Young said. “I can tell you that now I am a director. It’s a lot more responsibility, but I will never go back to just being a costume designer. I loved it.”
About the film
The Wicked features a small rural town rumored to have a witch living in an old house. While none of the characters early in the movie knows whether the witch actually exists, the plot evolves to the point where the witch is holding a child as a hostage in her home, forcing local community leaders and law enforcement officials into action.
“It becomes a race against time to save this child,” said Townes, who expects the finished film to run 95 to 110 minutes.
“What I like about White Lake is that it is beautiful during the day, and we used some locations for the daylight scenes, but it can become really spooky at night, and those were useful as well,” he said.
The witch’s house featured in the movie is located on the 1800 block of Hill Road in White Lake and is owned by White Lake resident Derrick Neher. Many other White Lake neighborhoods are featured in the film. There are many sites within the township used by Townes and Young, selected with the help of the location manager firm and Young’s familiarity with the area.
Filming the movie entirely in White Lake and the surrounding communities is a way for Young to show her appreciation to area businesses and residents for their support of the film, she said.
Once editing is completed, Young said she is confident that audiences will see the movie in theaters, and she hopes that she and Townes will immediately begin working on a sequel.
“We’d like for it to become a franchise like you saw in Scream, Saw or other horror or mystery movies,” Young said.
But it is clear that the first movie would not have happened without the support of the local community.
“I can’t tell you how great the White Lake Police and Fire Departments were, so many residents and businesses (from big box retailers along Highland Road) to small entrepreneurs. The support was really humbling,” she said.