Anticipated ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ filming begins today in Middletown: What to expect

For more than a week, crews have been transforming houses, buildings and streets around Middletown into sets for the long anticipated local filming of “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Today, Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard begins filming in and around Middletown after the production company completed its location shooting in Georgia on Friday.

Explore MORE: Crews are preparing Middletown for next week’s filming of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

The $45 million Netflix movie is film adaptation of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” that was written by J.D. Vance about growing up in Middletown and in Jackson, Ky. The memoir was a bestseller released in 2016.

“Hillbilly Elegy” will feature several major film stars that include Amy Adams, Glenn Close and Gabriel Basso.

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In a vacant lot at the corner of Charles Street and Manchester Avenue, there are vehicles from the 1980s parked for use in the movie including a medic unit and a dark color police cruiser that marked with “city of Middletown.” A large tent was also constructed on the site. Crews also trimmed some trees on some of the streets where filming will take place. Security guards and police have been posted at the various locations.

Residents can access their homes, but those who do not have business or live on that street won’t be permitted to get any closer than the perimeter.

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Private security guards and off-duty Middletown police have been hired by the production company to block various streets to keep onlookers away from the crews and actors as they film their scenes throughout the city. The community has been asked by Middletown police to “respect the set” and let the film crews do their work without interruptions by curious onlookers and fans hoping to get cell phone photo of one of the actors who have been cast in the movie.

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In a Facebook post last week, Middletown police said “if you’re looking for your big break, instead of trying to enter the set, filming area or disregard security to get noticed, send in a headshot to Hollywood….. We are pretty sure something like this will get the attention that you seek from movie directors everywhere. Remember, they are trying to do a job and we are also so please respect the process. We will have security everywhere… Glamour shots are the way to go.”

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To help furnish the interior sets and exterior scene of some of the houses being used in Middletown, the movie’s property department has been scouring the area for furniture, clothing, knick-knacks and other things for props.

Kristi Leigh, part of the Mix 107.7 Morning Show, said her son had posted a Craigslist garage sale ad to get rid of the furnishings and other contents of her parent’s home in Clayton. She said her mother died in 2017 and her father died in April. Her son Kellan, 17, received a call from the movie’s property manager who wanted to see what they had and bought her grandfather’s old recliner that was in the basement.

Her son said that the property manager looked around the house asked how much for everything.

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“She came back this morning (Wednesday) and went room to room marking things for various scenes in the movie,” Kristi Leigh said.

Kristi Leigh, who grew up in Clayton, said items purchased included furniture, cane poles, clothes, quilts, over the counter medicine bottles, and yard furniture. Other items that were purchased were an old pickup truck cap and old tools junk that would be seen in an alley

The property manager eventually spent about $900 for the items and had a truck come to pick everything up to take to Middletown.

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“The stuff will be peppered in the movie,” Kristi Leigh said. “Most movie companies donate the things they buy to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or woman’s shelters.

She said there were some things that she didn’t want to part with but said the items “will be immortalized on film.”

“It’s so cool,” Kristie Leigh said. “I’m really excited.”

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