Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 

Film crew returns for principal photography of 'Ted K'


Roger Dey

The "Ted K" crew films a scene at the corner of Stemple Pass Road and Highway 200 featuring a phonebooth set up in the spot where one stood for many years. It was often used by Ted Kaczynski, who was known for complaining it ate his dime. Although the crew located the original phone booth, it was in poor condition. Producer Matt Flanders also noted, half-jokingly, that they weren't sure people would believe such an old rotary dial pay phone was still in use in 1996.

Last Thursday afternoon, a phone booth re-appeared on the corner of Highway 200 and Stemple Pass Road, in the same spot where one once stood for years.

Although the booth differed from the original – some recalled it having red accents rather than blue – it served as the setting for a scene in the independent film "Ted K" currently being filmed in and around Lincoln.

That evening, as the crew filmed a scene featuring actor Sharlto Copley as Ted Kaczynski, a choreographed dance of short traffic delays and vintage vehicles hid the modern cars and trucks from the background of the shot.

The film crew for "Ted K" returned to Lincoln April 30 to resume filming of the Independent movie that looks at "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski's life and actions around Lincoln before his April 3, 1996 arrest.

Plans originally called for filming to resume about a month earlier, but this years extended winter weather force the production to reschedule.

"We were trying to keep authentic and try to do the arrest scene around the same time of year it actually happened, but there was just so much snow on the ground at the beginning of April that we pushed it," said Matt Flanders, the movie's producer. "We kept pushing it a week each time."

When the crew returned, they resumed filming with a scene depicting Kaczynski's arrest at his cabin near Stemple Pass Road. Although the action itself took place on the property once owned by Kaczynski and at the nearby Gehring Lumber mill site, many of the cast members gathered near the film's production office at the Midtown Plaza across from the Post Office.

"I'm sure people, when they were driving around, were shocked to see SWAT team members and FBI members out in the parking lot at The Lost Woodsman," Flanders said. "We had about 40 people that day. Then our crew is about 25, sometimes up to 30. It was a big group."

Although that scene required a large cast, the telephone booth scene was one of the most visible and, with a focus on tight shots and limited angles, it also gave some insight into how they are working to try to capture the feel of Lincoln in 1996.

"We're really trying to stay on roads where it won't impact people, and trying to build our shots around angles that kind of look like they're from the period, but don't get in the way of the residents ... doing their daily business."

Despite the effort to depict Lincoln as closely as possible to how it existed in 1996, there have been quite a few changes since then, and Flanders said there's no way for the independent film to get around showing some of the buildings in town as they exist today.

"A lot of times people put up kind of a fake facade on a building to make it look like it used to. We don't have that kind of budget, but we're trying to shoot creatively to kind of make it look like it did back then," he said. "But obviously, the Post Office is different, the library is different and several other buildings.

Another thing that has stood out to locals watching the production is the standard issue USPS right-hand drive mail truck being used for some scenes. Residents who lived in Lincoln in the 90's recall that Dick Lundberg, who ran the Lincoln Stage at the time, drove a four-door Ford pickup with a big box on it to deliver mail.

Flanders said the change is a way to streamline the story-telling for the broader audience that's unfamiliar with Lincoln's mail delivery.

"We know (the mail truck) is not authentic," Flanders said. "When you're making a movie, you can spend four minutes explaining why there are no mail trucks in Lincoln...or you can just use a mail truck.

"You want to be authentic, but you also have to tell the story in a clean way, without distracting people" he said. "We have to take a few visual shortcuts from time to time."

One thing that will appear authentic is Kaczynski's 10x12-foot cabin. Built by director Tony Stone several years ago at his property in New York, he used measurements and information found in the FBI's files to recreate it in detail. It was brought to Lincoln and reassembled on the site where the original cabin stood.

Flanders said the properties current owners have been supportive of the production, and even acted as extra FBI agents for the arrest scene.

"We have the support of the people up there who live nearby and everybody's just been very welcoming and have really helped us with our logistics and getting things placed where we need to get them placed," he said.

As filming continues, Flanders said people can expect to occasionally see filming in the area. In town, they will be shooting a scene one day for a few hours at the D&D.

Roger Dey

Director Tony Stone watches filming on a monitor as the crew works in the background.

"They're not going to be closed for business," Flanders said. "We'll shoot some angles that will allow (people to shop), and we may ask people to hold for a minute while we're filming. They'll be able to kind of look and watch and when we're done they can go in and get their shopping done." He said they may re-arrange a few things to help hide some of the modern items such as the new cash registers, however.

Flander's said they'll also be doing some filming at the Wilderness and at the Library, before moving on to scenes in private homes and on private property around town. Nevertheless, some people may see filming on area roads with Copley in costume as Kaczynski, riding a reproduction of his bike.

In general, Flanders said they are trying to remain as unobtrusive as possible, and things are going well.

"We've just been really fortunate so far," he said. "We're ... working with some local actors who are playing roles in the production, both in speaking roles and background (roles). It's really been fun to include them and we've been really impressed with the talent we found here at the open call. We cast several people from that. So, it's really great."


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