Hillsboro High School graduate Emily Railsback has big dreams that carried her away from her small hometown. She is currently attending graduate school at Columbia College Chicago for film production. She recently came home to create a film for her thesis work.
Her film, titled “He Owns It, We Built It,” is a 10-minute narrative about a young boy experiencing his first big loss.
“It’s a coming to age tale about a 1960’s farm kid experiencing his first childhood loss, his beloved fort,” Railsback said. “He tries to save the fort, but after it gets destroyed he runs away.
“There’s something universal about lives hard lessons and what to expect.”
Railsback said the story is based on an actual event from the film’s producer’s life.
“He grew up in Ireland, and it was too expensive to shoot in Ireland,” Railsback said. “We thought how can me make this film relate to my life? So we decided to shoot it in my home town.”
Railsback came home at the end of July to location scout and cast.
“We had the perfect location picked, and the fort built, and then it rained, and kept raining,” she said. “We were flooded out of several locations and had to do some last minute location scouting. The roads being closed were a major setback.”
The flooding continued until the day the crew arrived from Chicago.
“We unloaded the filming equipment in the rain,” Railsback said.
They filmed at several locations between Peabody and Hillsboro over a 4½-day period. Majority of the filming was done at the home of Mel and Marilyn Flaming’s home outside Peabody. During that time the crew stayed at Railsback’s friends homes.
“It was a great local collaboration,” she said. “Local people provided food for us each day, and put up the crew and donated things for set. It was a fun project to be a part of especially in a small town.”
Eight local actors were cast, including lead 10-year-old Paul Glanzer.
“It was a really really fun experience,” he said. “I especially liked hanging out with the crew. They were nice.”
Paul said his favorite part of the film was when he got to jump a fence; his least favorite was when his younger brother in the film shot him with a toy bow and arrow.
“One of the arrows stuck me in the shoulder and it really hurt,” he said.
Paul’s sister, Anna, was also in the film, he said the hardest part was pretending someone else was his parents.
“It was confusing,” he said.
This was the first film Paul has acted in, but he’s been in several Tabor College plays and elementary school plays.
“I like to act, but sometimes I get nervous,” he said. “I got nervous filming, but the crew encouraged me so I wouldn’t be nervous.”
Paul said he would be in another film, if the opportunity arose.
“Maybe not to that scale,” he said. “We worked a lot, and sometimes late. It was fun but if I made it to Hollywood, I’d be surprised.”
Kids in the film could only work 10 hours a day due to child labor laws. According to Paul’s mother, Kathryn Glanzer, they would shoot either early morning and into the afternoon, or afternoon until 10 or 11 p.m.
The project is now in production phases. According to Railsback, there is six months worth of editing and other processes worth to do before being completed. The film must be completed by May, when it is presented to the college thesis panel for grading.
“After we plan on having a Hillsboro showing of the film, but I don’t know when that will be yet,” she said. “We hope to finish the film sometime in April.”
Railsback and Paul say they are excited for the community to see the finished film.
“I think the community will really like it, and it will be something they can relate to,” she said.
“The pieces I saw of it are really good,” Paul said. “I’m ready to see the whole thing.”
Railsback said the best part of filming was getting out of the big city environment and becoming immersed in the small town lifestyle.
“It was nice to get out of Chicago and shoot,” she said. “In Chicago everything’s business, here it was fun and relaxing. I think it was a good environment change for us and the crew.”