Hollywood comes to Elgin in 'Contagion' shoot
It snowed a bit earlier than expected in Elgin Friday thanks to special effects workers for "Contagion," the blockbuster movie that's being shot at the old Sherman Hospital through Tuesday.
Movie crews took over the hospital Friday morning, renaming it the University of Minnesota Medical CenterFairview and spraying manufactured snow on a pair of lawns and curbs across the street in the Spring/Douglas Historic District, a neighborhood known for its beautiful mansions.
James and Esther Condro took their early morning stroll and purposely walked past the hospital, hoping to catch a glimpse of Matt Damon or Gwyneth Paltrow, both expected to be on set.
"It's the most exciting thing that has happened in the neighborhood," James Condro said. The Condros have lived there since 1968.
Dozens of trucks and movie trailers sat idling in the hospital's parking lot and on streets surrounding the building. As the day wore on, crews started wheeling various types of equipment around the hospital.
A gaggle of school girls stood at a nearby street corner just before 7 a.m. waiting for their bus to take them to Elgin High School. For once, the girls didn't mind that the bus was running late.
"They're filming a Matt Damon movie," said Taylor Powers, 16, who lives nearby and wanted to be an extra. "He's kind of cute."
It's unlikely Taylor or her friends will even get to see Damon or Paltrow.
For one thing, it's a closed set. Moreover, virtually all of the filming will occur indoors.
Crews are shooting scenes inside the hospital's intensive critical care unit, emergency department, operating room and waiting room.
Special effects workers created the snow for a brief scene in which ambulances race to the building something that probably will last a second or two on screen.
"Contagion," directed by Steven Soderbergh, also stars Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard none of whom are expected to appear in Elgin.
But hopefully, some of Elgin's talent makes it to the big screen.
In addition to locals, the movie cast several hospital employees as extras, said Sherman spokesman Josh McColough.
"Everyone is excited for this and it'll be fun if some of our people get to make it into the movie," he said.
In the midst of the Hollywood hoopla, the hospital's immediate care center was still taking patients.
Eric Davis of Bartlett went inside to get some blood work done and said he had no idea a movie was being shot there.
Now that he knows?
"I may come back, or find some type of reason to come back," Davis said, still looking stunned.
After Friday, crews will return to film more scenes on Monday and Tuesday.
Warner Bros. is paying Sherman roughly $50,000 for its time and is also reimbursing the hospital for its support and security staff and equipment, McColough said.
"Contagion," a thriller about a deadly viral outbreak that threatens to infect America, is scheduled to hit theaters next fall.