By Tallitha Reese
Tom and Macy Turpin, the owners of Turpin’s Hometown Grocery in Shullsburg, didn’t know quite what to think when they were first contacted by Sterling Rock Productions, a film production company out of Chicago, Ill. about using their store as a filming site for a new independent movie entitled “The Other One.”
“We had multiple contacts with them,” said Macy, “but we didn’t think they’d ever actually come.” But it became apparent that the company meant business when they showed up to complete sound checks at the store on the Saturday after Easter.
The cast and crew then arrived at the grocery store on the weekend of Sunday, April 21 to film several scenes in the store and on the sidewalk in front of the store.
“We thought it would be pretty neat for the little town of Shullsburg,” said Macy of the filming. The Turpins bought the store, located on Water Street in Shullsburg, in 2011.
During filming, the store stayed open while the crew and cast worked around the customers going about their customary shopping.
“The Turpins have been really great,” said Grace McPhillips, “we’re just trying to stay out of their way.” McPhillips is the actress playing the role of Amber Gracin, lead female character in the movie. McPhillips is also one of the producers for the film.
The film, which is set in Galena, Ill., is being directed by Joe Steiff, who said that he actually found Turpin’s Hometown Grocery after getting lost one day while traveling the area.
“We needed a small town grocery and I got lost and stopped here to ask for directions and just thought, this is it,” said Steiff.
Steiff himself is from a small town in southern Ohio and said he always imagined that the plot of his film would be set in a small town. He explained that McPhillips had spent some time in the area and actually stayed in the farmhouse where the majority of the film is set, which is what led the setting of the film to this area.
“The crew and cast are predominantly based out of the Chicago area,” said Steiff, “but some of the crew and actors are from the Galena area as well.”
In fact, Tom’s sister, Tina Van Raalte, played a minor part in one of the scenes filmed at the front of the store.
The story of “The Other One” first began as a short film script about four years ago when Steiff contacted McPhillips, who he had previously worked with, to be the lead. Steiff explained that it didn’t really come to much, but that “it always had a bigger film under it.”
McPhillips then contacted Steiff around the holiday season of 2012 and while the two caught up, she happened to ask about the project from previous years. McPhillips commented that she thought it was more of a feature film, to which Steiff vehemently agreed. The two decided it would be a good idea to give the story another try and planned to start filming a feature length film in April of 2013.
This time around, Steiff explained that developing the story and tone of the film was really a collaborative effort between actors, producers and himself. That is quite evident as many of the producers also act within the film as well.
“The film is about grief and loss and how difficult it is to not become overwhelmed by that,” explained Steiff.
“The Other One,” set in Galena, Ill., is a drama about a woman, named Amber, returning to her hometown, three years after her own personal tragedy, to take care of her mother now in the throws of dementia, whom is also haunted by the death of her young son who drowned mysteriously 30 years prior, yet is unknown to Amber. Exploring the modern topics of care-taking and the survival of gun violence, this film seeks to encourage more conversation about these modern day realities for millions of people and encourage resilience and forgiveness even in the darkest of times.
In the director’s statement on the film’s website Steiff said, “The Other One’ is a ghost story; all of the characters are haunted in the way that each of us is—by the pasts we embrace, we hide from, we lie about and we make peace with.”
“The Other One” is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.