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LST 325 a Hot Location for Film, Video Producers

Steve Burger

On a sunny day this week, the crew of the LST 325 was busy creating a rain storm in downtown Evansville.

While most of Evansville basked in the sunshine Tuesday afternoon, wind and rain lashed across the stern of the LST 325.

The crew was delighted.

Credit Steve Burger / WNIN
LST 325 crew members spray water on the lower deck as Chris Donahue takes video below to send to movie producers for review.

Chris Donahue and a couple of other crew members were trying various kinds of nozzles on one of the ship's fire hoses to spray water from the upper deck near the stern onto the lower deck to simulate various levels of rain. 

The wind for the make believe storm came courtesy of an approaching cold front that arrived a few hours later.

Donahue was videotaping the test on his phone to send to producers of the new movie "Runner", which is in pre-production. If Donahue can convince the film production company that his firehose makes realistic enough rain, they'll use his equipment instead of renting a rain machine.

That's not all.  For the movie, the LST has to look like a cargo ship, intead of a naval warship that saw extensive action in World War II. Donahue explained why.

Credit Steve Burger / WNIN
An officer's cabin on the LST will double as a cargo ship berth for the movie.

"Prior to this, they were looking some in Illinois and Missouri where there's a river, but they realized they also needed a cargo ship," Donahue explained. "So guess what, the LST is now a cargo ship."

Donahue said several members of the production have ties to Indiana University and following their visit, are looking to shoot more of the film's scenes in Indiana.

He said they'll use one of the LST's officer's cabins as a berth on the cargo ship, with the stateroom's porthole serving an important role in the film. 

Credit Steve Burger / WNIN

"All they wanted us to change was to paint one of the closet doors white instead of black," Donahue said.

Donahue said the production company also wants to film some of the industrial area at the bend in the river, as well as finding a river camp setting for the movie.

The movie is the fourth video or film production that is either scheduled, or has been shot in recent weeks. Donahue worked with a film crew from the Discovery Channel's "Impossible Engineering" program last weekend. A crew also rented the ship for a day recently and filmed a music video on the ship's tank deck. Another crew from the Smithsonian Channel is expected in mid-April to talk about how LST's were used in the Korean War. The "Runner" movie is the fourth production.

Why all the sudden interest in the LST?

"We've increased our exposure exponentially on the internet in the past ten years, and now, instead of us finding them, they're finding us," Donahue said.

Evansville Convention and Visitor's Bureau President Jim Wood said without knowing the size of the production crews, it's difficult to measure the economic impact of the increase in local film productions at the LST 325. However, he said the visibility and notoriety of having the city and the LST on cable TV and as the setting of a feature length movie are tremendous. 

Wood said he is aware of one other production company planning to film in Evansville within the next few weeks. He said they have been busy scouting locations, getting some props and setting up catering and hotels for that production.

Woods said what will help get more productions to come to Evansville would be for the state to enact some type of film tax credit.

"That would be extremely helpful for the state of Indiana to attract more filmmaking in the state,"Wood said.

Wood said he is "cautiously hopeful" that the Indiana legislature will enact some type of film tax credit in the future, but did not have an estimate of when that will be. However, they are getting ready for it. Wood said they have about three hundred potential filming locations listed on their website and are constantly looking for more ways to work with filmmakers.

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