Video by Jon Alexander
Downtown St. Louis will soon be seen on the silver screen. Since Nov. 27, the crew behind the upcoming independent movie The Ghost Who Walks has been filming in Downtown, and the group will continue to do so through Dec. 22. Set to be completed by May 2018, the goal of the St. Louis-based team is to premiere this low-budget film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“The Ghost Who Walks is about an imprisoned man who rats out his former boss for one last chance to reunite his family and become the father he never was,” says Coolfire Studios President and Executive Producer David Johnson, a Missouri native who moved to St. Louis in 2005. Johnson explains that Cody Stokes, the film’s writer and director, originally wrote the film with a location of New York, where he then lived, although the city was not specifically noted in the script.
Stokes relocated to the midwest to be closer to family, Johnson says, and the two began working together on Coolfire Studios’ client projects. “Earlier this year, Cody told me he had written a screenplay,” Johnson recalls. “He knew that I had spent some time in LA where I was an indie film producer. I told him I would read it, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much. After reading it, though, I found that it was incredibly well-written…[with] a very heartfelt, character-driven storyline.” When Stokes asked him to come on as the executive producer, Johnson accepted.
Since the film takes place during the holiday season, and the production budget is low, Johnson explains their timing was crucial. “Our goal was to make the film in 2017 and leverage the city’s holiday decor to add production value to the film,” he says. “So we said, What if we changed the script to take place in St. Louis? We know a lot of the locations here, we have great relationships with crew members here—we sort of have home-field advantage.”
While the city is still not specifically called out in the script, Stokes adjusted the film to take place in the Gateway City. “We just knew that there are some amazing locations that could look like exactly what Cody had originally envisioned,” Johnson says. “I think St. Louis—and specifically locations Downtown—gave us an authenticity that we would have had a really hard time acquiring in any other market.”
Downtown locations used in the film include a house the team rented, as well as the former jail on Tucker Boulevard and Clark Avenue.
“While we didn’t have the huge budget that other films might have, our final product is going to look like we did and that is in large part due to the fact that we were able to find some amazing locations right here in St. Louis,” Johnson says. “In short, we’re going to be able to deliver a film that hits well above its weight class.”