Story by Julie Campbell
When you think of Indiana, visions of the silver screen probably don’t come to mind. Believe it or not, though, the Hoosier state has been the site of many major motion pictures over the years.
Wouldn’t it be fun to watch some of these blockbusters, and then hop in the car to actually experience the movie locations with your family or friends? Follow us on a trip to some of the sites of the most iconic movies ever made in Indiana!
Hoosiers (Indianapolis, Knightstown)
Combining one of our state’s favorite sports – basketball – with a great
story and an all-star cast, the movie Hoosiers garnered two Academy Award nominations and won the hearts of hoops fans around the country. Loosely based on the true story of the Milan High School’s 1954 championship miracle win against Muncie Central,
the movie, starring Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, chronicles the journey of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team to the state championship game.
In the fall of 1985, Anderson resident Wayne Bruzzese was an extra in the movie during the filming at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University.
“I remember the producer acting like he was coming down court
and taking a shot, and we were all supposed to cheer as if he made it,” explains Bruzzese. “The fieldhouse was almost empty, so they moved us in groups to make the section look packed out.”
The historic Hoosier Gym in Knightstown also served as the filming location for the home court of the movie’s Hickory Huskers team. Each year the gym holds
the Hoosiers Reunion All-Star Classic, highlighting the best high school players from around the state.
Other scenes from the film were shot in Crawfordsville, Lebanon, New Richmond and Terhune.
Rudy (South Bend, Whiting)
Seven years later, Hoosiers director Angelo Pizzo began filming another iconic sports movie, this time about football. Rudy featured Sean Astin, who later went on to star in The
Lord of the Rings trilogy, as the lead character.
Farmland resident Heather Leeper was 18 at the time of the filming and remembers her roommate waking her early in the morning to ask if she wanted to be an extra in the movie.
“It was so cold that day. We got dressed in anything that looked like
it could be from the 70s and headed over to the stadium (at Notre Dame). I still remember my lines – ‘Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!’ she said with a laugh.
Besides the Notre Dame stadium, where the famous championship game was filmed, Corby’s Irish Pub was home to the bar scenes in the movie. “Corby’s has a lot of nostalgic stuff from the movie,” said Lauren Stout of Visit South Bend. “It gets really busy during home games.”
Scenes that include Rudy’s family home were filmed at 1718 E. 119th St. in Whiting, and several other scenes were filmed in various locations in South Bend or nearby cities.
A League of Their Own (Evansville, Huntingburg)
Filmed in Evansville and released in 1992, this star-studded flick tells the story of two sisters who joined the first female professional baseball league. The cast included acting legends Tom Hanks and Geena Davis as well as personalities like Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell.
One of the three oldest ballparks in the United States, Bosse Park was home to many of the scenes
in the movie. Another ballpark in a nearby town, Huntingburg League Stadium was used as the home field for the Rockford Peaches and the site of Tom Hanks’ famous “There’s no crying in baseball!” scene. Both parks still display memorabilia used in the movie.
Blue Chips (Frankfort)
Keeping with the sports theme, Blue Chips is yet another basketball movie filmed in Indiana featuring sports legends such as Larry Bird, Dick Vitale, Bob Knight and Shaquille O’Neil.
Frankfort Senior High School and Frankfort Middle School’s gymnasiums were both featured in scenes from the movie.
Public Enemies (Crown Point, Chesterton)
Parts of this 2009 film starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale were filmed at The Old Sheriff’s House in Crown Point and at Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton.
“The Old Sheriff’s House in Crown Point was the original building that Dillinger escaped from,” explained Erika Dahl of South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. “The garage where he stole the car and made his escape also still exists, as a shop (not a garage). The Old Sheriff’s House is owned by a foundation, and they offer tours (seasonally).”
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pearl Harbor, Nightmare on Elm Street, Presumed Innocent and more (Gary)
According to Ben Clement, who has served as the executive director for the Gary Office of Film and Television since its inception in 1997, the city has hosted literally hundreds of film and television productions.
“While most major productions were attracted to Gary because of the unique architectural appeal of City Methodist Church, others have been drawn to heavy industrial locations like US Steel Gary Works and Gary Screw & Bolt, as well as abandoned historic sites like Union Station, Memorial Auditorium, The Palace Theatre, and Mercy Hospital,” said Clement. “Still other filmmakers have discovered our wonderful beachfront locations, the vast expanse of Lake Michigan, the tranquility of Marquette Park including the majestic Marquette Park Pavilion and the breathtaking Bathing Beach Aquatorium.”
Although the abandoned City Methodist Church is temporarily inaccessible to filmmakers and visitors, Clement said the site is currently being redeveloped into a ruins garden.
“Also since the tragic events of 9/11, USX has ceased onsite tours of the massive Gary Works facility, however, the property is still visible from public thoroughfares like US 12/20 which passes through the heart of downtown Gary,” Clemens explained. “We constantly welcome visitors to Buffington Harbor near Majestic Star Casino seeking to see one of the locations for Transformers.”
This is just a sampling of the hundreds of movies filmed in the Hoosier State. Other notable films include Madison and Columbus (both filmed in their respective namesake cities), Some Came Running (Madison), Kinsey and Breaking Away (Bloomington). For additional information, check out the Silver Screen Trail at visitindiana.com/trip-ideas/
While it was not filmed in Indiana, the wildly popular holiday movie, A Christmas Story, is set in Hohman, Indiana, a fictionalized version of the author’s hometown of Hammond.
Each year from early November through the end of December, the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond hosts the exhibit, “A Christmas Story” Comes Home.
“There are six animated window displays depicting scenes from the holiday movie classic. Jean Shepherd co-wrote the movie, and Shepherd grew up in Hammond (the location of the exhibit). There are references to northwest Indiana in the movie (mentioning the Town of Griffith and Lake Michigan). Shepherd also went to Warren G. Harding Elementary School (which no longer exists) and grew up on Cleveland Street in Hammond,” said Erika Dahl of South Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau Authority. “While some of the locations do not exist, we at the South Shore CVA have installed a bronze statue of Flick with his tongue stuck to flagpole. It’s a wonderful photo op and it’s outside, on display, 365 days a year.” For more information, go to www.southshorecva.com
And while these aren’t movie locations per se, film buffs and car buffs should check out Auburn in DeKalb County. The Kruse Plaza (www.kruseplaza.com/exhibits/)
sits just off of I-69 just one stop south of Auburn’s main exit. This museum features the collections of Carl Casper, a famous Hollywood movie car designer, and it showcases many of the cars you know including the van from the A-Team, one of Fonzi’s motorcycles as well as two Batmobiles and plenty more. Hollywood stars, sports heroes, and other well-known celebrities drove and endorsed the products of the Auburn Automobile Company and Duesenberg, Inc. At the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum’s “Cars of the Stars” exhibit, you’ll learn the “Who’s Who” of famous people who drove the most stylish and in-vogue automobiles of the 1920s and ‘30s. For more information go to www.dekalbcvb.org.
Do you ever wonder how film companies decide on Indiana as “the place” to shoot all or part of their movies and projects? It’s not by accident. Behind the scenes is Film Indiana, whose primary objectives are to promote Indiana assets and destinations to prospective film makers and assist companies seeking production services in the state. They help bring projects to life, and assist in major aspects of the process. There are hundreds of film-friendly locations in the Hoosier state, and the group maintains a free database, FilmIndiana.com, that features locations and a list of production professionals.
The power of film can enhance the perception of the state or city, support the economy, generate tourism, and uplift a community. That’s what the film Columbus did for that city. Kogonada, the director, was so captivated by a Columbus architecture tour he took that he made an entire movie about it. Now the City of Columbus features a tour of the filming locations.
The film business is booming in Indiana. Pigasus Pictures released The Good Catholic, all filmed in Bloomington. Their next two films, Ms. White Light and The MisEducation of Bindu are currently making their way around the festival circuit. Producer, actor and screenwriter Jordon Hodges has shot several films in the Michiana area. His latest, The Shade Shepard, is making its way around film festivals as well. “Smaller productions and independent films are happening every day across Indiana,” says Amy Howell, Director of Communications and Media Relations for the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, and Director of Film Indiana. “The NFL Network, Restaurant Impossible, Lakefront Bargain Hunters, Ghost Hunters, to name a few, filmed in Indiana in 2019.” Over 600 requests for information came in to Film Indiana, and the number continues to grow each year. Some place in the Hoosier State will be the next Columbus or provide the background for next Hoosiers or Rudy.